Diversity & Equality in Health and Care Open Access

  • ISSN: 2049-5471
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Hidden lives: the importance of recognising the needs and experiences of older lesbians and gay men within healthcare practice

Lee-Ann Fenge, Christina Hicks

If they are to meet the diverse needs of the ageing population, healthcare practitioners require a greater understanding of the experiences of older lesbians and gay men. The provision of respectful, compassionate, accessible healthcare is as important to them as it is to anyone else. However, to date only a limited number of studies of older lesbians and gay men have been undertaken in the UK, and therefore their experiences and needs have remained largely hidden. This paper reports on the findings of a participative research project, involving older lesbians and gay men, which was one of the firstto use this methodology within the UK. Key themes include issues of ‘coming out’ and concerns about heterosexism in care. These are discussed in terms of the need to adopt a more person-centred approach within healthcare that promotes an emphasis on valuing individual identity and diversity.