‘See me, hear me, know me’ – supporting the needs of the older LGBT community

Northern Ireland is made up of a diverse mix of people and as the population ages, so the needs of everyone must be taken into account.

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Today the ‘See me, hear me, know me’ guidelines are being launched with the aim of supporting the needs of older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in nursing, residential, and day care settings and those who live at home and receive domiciliary care.

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Northern Ireland has the fastest-growing older population in the United Kingdom and this number will continue to increase every year. Older people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and/or Transgender (LGB&/T) are generally likely to have a greater need for health and social care services compared with their heterosexual peers. Overall, they are two and half times more likely to live alone, twice as likely to be single and four and half times more likely to have no children to call on in times of need.

The Public Health Agency (PHA), in partnership with Age NI, The Rainbow Project, Here NI, Unison, RQIA and the Independent Health and Care Providers have worked together to develop the ‘See me, hear me, know me’ guidelines.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health at the PHA, said: “Addressing the health and social wellbeing inequalities experienced by older people who identify as LGB&/T is a key priority area for the PHA. ‘See me, hear me, know me’ is a practical guide to help those involved in the development and delivery of care to better understand the needs of older people who identify as LGB&/T and respond to those needs in a range of care settings. The guidelines are a practical tool which we hope will help all staff strive to improve the delivery of person centred care for older LGB&/T people in Northern Ireland.”

Duane Farrell Strategy Director (Policy & Engagement) with Age NI, attended the launch at Antrim Civic Centre and said: “Getting care right must be a priority for our society as we all age. Research indicates that older people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender will rely disproportionately on formal care services to have their needs met. However, evidence also indicates that there is a low degree of experience among service providers about best practice when providing care to older LGB&/T people.

“Age NI’s vision is of a social care system that provides quality, integrated social care that recognises the rights, aspirations and diversity of us all and is based on the right to live with dignity, independence, security and choice. The launch of these guidelines today offers service providers and care staff the tools with which to make that vision a reality.”

The guidelines will be disseminated to all registered nursing, day care, residential and domiciliary care providers. They are also available to download from bit.ly/1hZopwS

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