Services and care settings for LGBTQ+ people with dementia

Advice and practical tips for supporting LGBTQ+ people with dementia to access services and care settings.

As the person’s dementia progresses, they will need more support from different care professionals. In the later stages of dementia, they may need to move into supported living or a care home.

Making the right care decisions for LGBTQ+ people with dementia

In any care setting, the person has a right to the same treatment as people who are not LGBTQ+. The Equality Act 2010 means it is illegal for health and social care staff and organisations in England and Wales to discriminate against someone (treat them less favourably) because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In Northern Ireland, there are similar laws – the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 and the Sex Discrimination (NI) Order 1976.

Some LGBTQ+ people may be worried about meeting different care staff or going into care settings. They may feel uncomfortable about carers coming into their home and feel it is an intrusion into their safe space.

They may worry that they will experience prejudice or discrimination. The idea of revealing their body to professionals during personal care may also be difficult for them.

Finding LGBTQ+ friendly services and care settings

In some settings, care professionals may not have enough knowledge or awareness to support the needs of LGBTQ+ people with dementia. They may not realise that LGBTQ+ people access their services or understand that the person’s sexual or gender identity can have a big impact on their needs.

For example, reminiscence activities may focus on people’s family, not realising that some LGBTQ+ people may not be in touch with their family of origin or may not have children. In some cases, you may have to inform professionals and make them aware of these issues.

You could suggest that they read ‘Safe to be me’, Age UK’s guide for health and social care workers supporting LGBTQ+ people. 

Some care professionals may feel that they are not discriminating because they treat everyone the same. However, many LGBTQ+ people want their unique history and identity recognised and respected, and their individual needs met.

It’s important to find a setting where the person feels that they are understood, and their preferences and wishes are respected. This should also take into account the person’s cultural, spiritual or religious beliefs or practices.

It can be harder to find LGBTQ+ aware services. Try to think ahead and look around in advance for what is available. Consortium has a directory that might be useful. It includes LGBTQ+ services and support groups for older people. You might want to check if there is anything in your area.

You may also want to contact a local LGBTQ+ organisation in your area. They may know about any groups or services that are available locally for LGBTQ+ people with dementia.

Moving into a care home

Many people with dementia remain living at home independently when they have the right level of support in place. However, the time may come when the person needs to move into a care home

If the person is moving into a care home, they may be worried about staff not supporting them or meeting their needs. They may also be worried about experiencing prejudice, discrimination or hostility from other residents. They might feel like their home is a ‘safe space’ where they are free to express their identity and may be worried about leaving it.

The person with dementia, with your support, may find it helpful to talk to care home staff about their sexual orientation or gender identity as early as possible.

This can help them find out whether staff have any negative attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people, and whether they are aware of the unique challenges an LGBTQ+ person with dementia may face.

If the person is trans but doesn’t want to share this with everyone in the care home, they may want you to tell one (or a few) of the care home staff.

It is against the law for care home staff to share the person’s gender identity without the person’s consent. It’s important to find a care home where the person can feel safe and accepted.

For advice on housing options for LGBTQ+ people, it may be useful to contact Stonewall Housing.

Managing complaints about prejudice or discrimination

If you or the person with dementia feel unfairly treated by an organisation because of your or their sexual orientation or gender identity, ask for their complaints procedure.

If you follow this procedure and still don’t feel your complaint has been properly addressed, you can take the complaint further. The organisation’s complaints procedure should explain what to do next. If not, you can contact the relevant Ombudsman to make a complaint. Which one you talk to will depend on what the complaint is about and where you live. For more information see LGBTQ+ dementia care - Useful organisations.

If you need advice or support when making a complaint, there are lots of organisations that can help and support you through the process:

You can also get advice and support from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in England and Wales, or the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

In some cases, if you feel you need more help with the process, you might need to talk to a solicitor to get legal advice.

Care homes: When is the right time and who decides?

Read our advice and practical tips on when is the right time for a person with dementia to be moved into a care home, and how to approach the situation.

Read our advice
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