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Mayor in Call to Care Homes over LGBT Needs

ByEmily

Jul 10, 2017 #community, #Government]

MIDDLESBROUGH Mayor Dave Budd is calling on the town’s care homes to ensure they are meeting the needs of the LGBT community.

Providers from across Middlesbrough are being asked to share their experiences with the aim of improving services across the town and further afield.

And views are also being sought from those with experience of the system, or concerns about how existing provision will meet their needs.

The move follows a recent report by LGBT campaign group Stonewall which indicated that nearly half of lesbian, gay or bisexual people would feel uncomfortable telling health and social care staff about their sexual orientation.

Some 70% felt they would not be able to be themselves living in a care home, with many fearing discrimination, either from other residents or staff.

LGBT people may also have specific care needs – they are less likely to have family support in later life, and are more likely to have needs related to mental ill health, for example.

Middlesbrough Mayor Dave Budd said: “As Mayor, I am committed to creating a fairer Middlesbrough in which every citizen’s right to feel valued is upheld.

“This Council is committed to ensuring the services it delivers fully meet the needs of all our citizens, and as part of this we are looking at how we can improve the lives of LGBT people with care needs.

“It is vital that our care homes provide an inclusive environment for all residents, LGBT people included.

“However, we lack a body of evidence around the experiences of LGBT people living in our care homes in Middlesbrough, and therefore want to hear from those with direct experience.

“It would be also useful to hear what information is available in individual home, what training staff receive and what monitoring is in place.

“We appreciate that older generations may be less open about issues of sexuality, making these issues difficult to identify – however, recent research into this topic from Stonewall, Age UK, The Alzheimer’s Society and various universities demonstrates this is an important issue.”

Joanne Fairless, Operations Manager at LGBT support charity Hart Gables, said: “We know there can be issues with residential care never mind for those who are LGBT, so it’s important that we empower people to talk and share information like this.

“As people get older, they start to worry about how they will be looked after and whether they will be able to share a care home with their partner.

“If we are to make sure the services available fully reflect the society we live in, initiatives like this have an important role to play.

“Perceptions have changed and things have moved forward, but there is still work to be done and that’s why we want people to be able to approach the Council and speak freely about their needs, concerns and experiences.”

Michelle Dawson, Programme Manager at Ageing Better Middlesbrough, said: “We are really supportive of this initiative and hope that it means positive changes can be made for people from the LGBT community living in residential care.

“As people get older sexuality can become a taboo and this is even more so with people from the LGBT community, with the assumption usually being that older people are heterosexual.

“Older LGBT people have told Ageing Better Middlesbrough that they have real concerns about how their needs will be met by residential care providers as they get older.

“If we all work together we can definitely make a real difference for people.”

By Emily