A new report from the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) has revealed LGBTQ+ men and women aged 50 and over have poorer self-rated health and are more likely to have other conditions impacting their health and wellbeing
Researchers are calling for action to improve health outcomes for the older members of the LGBTQ+ community through the enhancement of inclusivity in mainstream health care and provision, training of health and care staff, as well as the enhancement of data collection.
The new report from specialist think tank ICL, based on a project by researchers from the University College London (UCL), Cardiff University and supported by the Wellcome Trust has highlighted issues faced by older people within the LGBTQ+ community. Despite progress over recent years, these individuals continue to experience poorer health outcomes than cisgender and heterosexual people within the same age bracket.
Research reveals that a lifetime of prejudice and stigma may be leading to worse physical and mental health outcomes, less access to health and social care, along with greater levels of loneliness and isolation.
Based on data from 24 different surveys, this new analysis has revealed that lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals are around 1.2 times more likely to experience poor self-rated health than heterosexuals – a strong predicator of future mortality. Older gay or bisexual men were also revealed to be more likely to live with a long-term, limiting illness, as well as to report having lower overall satisfaction in life.
The new report calles for the renewed focus to ensure that mainstream health and care provisions are consistently inclusive, offering environments where older LGBTQ+ people can feel safe and comfortable.
Hospitals currently do not routinely collect data about patients sexual orientation, which some fear risks healthcare professionals overlooking the needs of LGBTQ+ people as they grow older. Worries over training focuses of health and care professionals highlighting that all patients should be treated the same, rather than recognising and tailoring to their specific needs have also been raised.
Following the new report, ILC is calling for the development of a national standard or quality assurance framework around equality and diversity training for the needs of older LGBTQ+ people. ILC is also calling for better data collection on the health needs and outcomes of these individuals, to allow services to adapt to meet their needs.
Senior Research Fellow at ILC, Dr Brian Beach, shared his thoughts.
“It is disheartening that in 2019 we continue to see health inequalities between older LGBT people and their hetrosexual and cisgender peers.
“We need to see action not to build on the NHS’s pledge to end discrimination in heath and care across the country. We must also enhance our understanding of the needs of the older LGBT community. Health and care staff must be trained to ensure that they are not directly or indirectly discriminating against older LGBT people.”