Gay-friendly elderly care: creating space for sexual diversity in residential care by challenging the hetero norm

H Leyerzapf, M. Visse, A. de Beer, TA Abma

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Studies on older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) adults in residential care point to their discrimination, invisibility and the taboo on LGBT lifestyles, and call for development of ‘gay-friendly’ care. Yet, the literature is short on how to create inclusive residential care for older LGBT people. We aim to acquire in-depth understanding of experiences and needs of LGBT older people concerning their inclusion and participation in care settings to contribute to development of inclusive and responsive care that structurally enhances visibility, ‘voice’ and wellbeing of LGBT residents. Responsive, multi-stakeholder research using interviews, participant observations and focus groups was conducted within three elderly care homes in the Netherlands. Thematic, interpretative analysis was performed. LGBT respondents reported social exclusion and the need to feel safe and at home and be yourself. Exclusive activities for LGBT people foster personal and relational empowerment. However, heterogenous activities seem crucial in dealing with stereotypical imaging, heteronormativity and an equality-as-sameness discourse that influenced culture and daily practice in the homes and negatively affected the position of LGBT older adults. For development of gay-friendly elderly care exclusionary social norms need to be addressed. Dialogical sharing of narratives can help to empower LGBT older adults and stimulate understanding and shared responsibility between LGBT and heterosexual older people, as well as professionals.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAgeing and Society
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2016

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