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Supporting agencies and practitioners to meet the needs of older LGBT people

23rd March 2015

I was interested to read an article in the Guardian yesterday about LGBT older people with dementia and concerns about them being forced back into the closet.

Supporting the ageing LGBT Community

In particular the article raises concerns about how the social care workforce supports the ageing LGBT community, and more specifically the growing numbers of individuals who will require care and support as a result of dementia.

This topic is particularly important given the dignity in care agenda and the core values of respect and compassion which underpin practice with older people. At Bournemouth University we have been undertaking research in this area for over 10 years, working collaboratively with older LGBT people to develop knowledge and understanding of their experiences and needs, and helping to develop tools to support practice development.

What have we done?

We have developed a range of ‘co-produced’ resources, and we are using this opportunity to draw these resources to the attention of those working in this area. These resources include a ‘co-produced’ text book, academic papers, a learning tool in the form of a Method Deck of Cards and the film ‘RUFUS STONE’ whose executive producer Dr Kip Jones works alongside me at Bournemouth University. The film is now available to download free on the attached link.

How have we used our research?

We have used both the Method Deck of Cards and the film RUFUS STONE to raise awareness of the needs of older LGBT for those who provide services to them. RUFUS STONE is based on three years of a Research Council UK funded study of the lives of older lesbians and gay men in south west England and Wales, a part of the national New Dynamics of Ageing Programme of research. Winner of two awards at the prestigious Rhode Island International Film Festival in 2012, the film has gone on to be screened at film festivals, other universities in the UK, USA and Canada and by organisations such as Alzheimer’s Society UK, LGBT groups, and health, social and ageing support networks. Author and Executive Producer of RUFUS STONE, Dr, Kip Jones, has written widely in the academic press and elsewhere on the process of collecting the biographic material and subsequently his writing the story for the film.

The Method Deck of Cards was developed with funding from the Big Lottery fund and in partnership with a steering group of older LGBT people. Limited copies are still available on request from Dr. Lee-Ann Fenge

We hope that our work and the resources developed as a result of it can go some way to promote the dignity in care agenda for older LGBT people.


Other Useful Resources

Fannin, A., Hicks, T., Fenge, L., and Lavin, N. 2008 Social Work Practice with Older Lesbians and Gay Men, Learning Matters

Fenge, L. (2013) Developing understanding of same sex partner bereavement for older lesbian and gay people: implications for social work practice, Journal of Gerontological Social Work, online access DOI: 10.1080/01634372.2013.825360

Jones, K., Fenge, L., Read, R. and Cash, M. (2013) Collecting Older Lesbians’ and Gay Men’s Stories of Rural Life in South West England and Wales: “We Were Obviously Gay Girls … (So) He Removed His Cow From Our Field”, FQS Forum: Qualitative Social Research Sozialforschung, Volume 14, No. 2, Art. 7

Jones K. and Fenge, L. 2013 ‘Involving older gay men in research: the lure of group experience’ In B. Pini and B. Pease (Eds.) Men, Masculinities and Methodologies, New York and London Palgrave.

Fenge, L. and Hicks, C. (2011) Hidden lives: the importance of recognizing the needs and experiences of older lesbians and gay men within healthcare practice, Diversity in Health and Care, 8, 147-154

Fenge, L. and Jones, K. (2011) Gay and Pleasant Land? Exploring sexuality, ageing and rurality in a multi-method performative project, British Journal of Social Work, Advanced Access May 4th 2011, doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcr058

Fenge, L., Jones, K., and Read, R. (2010) ‘Connecting participatory methods in a study of older lesbian and gay citizens in rural areas’ International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 9(4), 320-333

Fenge, L. (2010). Striving towards Inclusive Research: An Example of Participatory Action Research with Older Lesbians and Gay Men, British Journal of Social Work, 40, 878-894

Fenge, L., Fannin, A., Hicks, T., Armstrong, A., & Taylor, V. (2009). Lifting the Lid on sexuality and ageing: the voices of volunteer researchers, Qualitative Social Work: Research Practice,8,4, 509-524

Fenge, L. & Fannin, A. (2009) Sexuality and Bereavement: Implications for Practice with Older Lesbians and Gay Men, Practice, 21, 1, 35-46

  • NCPP Bournemouth University
    Professor Lee-Ann Fenge
    Director of the Centre of Seldom Heard Voices, Marginalisation and Societal Integration / NCPQSWPP

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