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Supporting older LGBTQ+ people

21 Feb 2022

Business news, Thrive

I’m Siân, Living Well Manager for United Welsh.

The Living Well team provide great homes and services for over 800 United Welsh tenants aged 55 and over in the form of apartments, bungalows, sheltered accommodation and extra care facilities.

Part of my role is to develop strategies for our residents to make sure they are able to live their best lives.

Having been an LGBTQ+ ally for many years, it is really important to me that Living Well schemes are fully inclusive and welcoming places for everyone.  There is worrying evidence that LGBTQ+ people are going ‘back in the closet’ when they move into accommodation for older people. Stonewall commissioned a poll of over 2,000 LGBT+ people which received the following comments:

“From personal experience of visiting older friends in retirement and nursing homes I know as an absolute truth that they have felt more comfortable in hiding their sexuality from other residents and carers.”

“Everything is predominantly heterosexual orientated … It’s depressing to think I might end up in a home where I could be isolated because to disclose or talk about my life would lead to ostracisation.”

It is vital that people know they are supported and welcome in our homes to be themselves and live their lives in a safe environment. Our services at United Welsh must reflect that.

To recognise LGBTQ+ History Month, we rolled out branded rainbow lanyards to the team for staff to show our residents and colleagues our support. It is a small gesture, but it is often the small gestures that can go a long way in people feeling welcome and appreciated.

We are also asking our LGBTQ+ residents and allies to join a project group that will develop and roll out an action plan across our services.  My aim is for older LGBTQ+ people to see Living Well homes as a safe, happy choice where their wellbeing is our number one priority.