“LGBT people aged 50+ have poorer self-rated health and are more likely to have other conditions that impact their wellbeing”
BY DANIELLE MUSTARDE
Older LGBTQI people continue to experience poorer health outcomes than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts, a new report has found.
The report, published today (Wednesday 8 May 2019) by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC), is based on a project conducted by researchers at UCL and Cardiff University and is supported by the Wellcome Trust.
It highlights that, despite progress towards equality in recent years, urgent action is needed to improve health outcomes of the older LGBTQI community by enhancing inclusivity of mainstream health and care provision, strengthening training of health and care staff and enhancing data collection.
The research also reveals that a lifetime of prejudice and stigma is leading to worse physical and mental health, poorer access to health and social care, as well as greater levels of social isolation and loneliness among older LGBTQI people.
New analysis, based on data from 24 different surveys, demonstrates that the odds of lesbian, gay, or bisexual men and women experiencing poor self-rated health are around 1.2 times higher than for heterosexual people, with poor self-rated health being a strong predictor of future mortality.
While the NHS and other health bodies have clear duties around tackling health inequalities, hospitals still do not routinely collect data related to patients’ sexual orientation, which risks the needs of LGBTQI people being overlooked as they age.
There is also still a tendency for training of health and care professionals to focus on treating all patients the same rather than recognising the specific needs of different groups.
That is why the report calls for a renewed focus on ensuring that mainstream health and care provision is “consciously inclusive”, so that services offer environments where older LGBTQI people feel safe and comfortable.
ILC is also calling for the development of a national standard or quality assurance framework around equality and diversity training for the needs of older LGBTQI people, as well as better data collection on health needs and outcomes of older LGBTQI people to allow services to adapt to meet the demand and needs of their older LGBT population.
Dr Brian Beach, Senior Research Fellow at ILC, said: “It is disheartening that in 2019 we continue to see health inequalities between older LGBT people and their heterosexual and cisgender peers.
“We need to see action now to build on the NHS’s pledge to end discrimination in health 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.”
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