Nautilus Welfare Fund care staff gained insights into how services for older LGBT+ people can be improved at a recent Take Pride in Ageing conference.
Hosted by Silver Rainbows in Cheshire on 1 October, the topics were thought-provoking and eye-opening, particularly on the issues of dementia and sexual orientation and how this can be impacted with the onset of dementia.
Specialist workshops were also held and covered best practice and practical steps such as trans ageing; end of life planning and legal considerations; training and accreditation; and how to engage with older LGBT+ communities.
Silver Rainbows is a social network for older lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in Cheshire that holds regular social activities as well as maintaining an online social network. They are also developing a record of the history of the LGBT + community from the post-war years.
The Nautilus Welfare Fund charity recognises that it's important that all staff are aware of and consider the issues faced by LGBT+ and all other people vulnerable to discrimination into their retirement and older years.
A specialist dementia nurse was appointed by the charity, as part of a pilot project to support its existing dementia services. Her role is also supported by the charity Dementia UK and she provides free advice and support for residents at the Mariners' Park Estate in Wallasey who are affected by the condition, as well as advice to staff in the Care Home and Home Care service.
During the conference delegates heard about additional challenges that are specific to a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. The Alzheimer's Society raised awareness of their campaign Bring Dementia Out, which aims to encourage people to 'see the person and not just the condition' and to look beyond dementia and respect all aspects of someone's identity.
LGBT+ people with dementia can face discrimination or stigma and may feel forced back into the closet, or their dementia could mean they feel they are still living in those times, the conference heard.
Trans people with dementia may go back to a time before they transitioned, which can be distressing and confusing. Some LGBT+ people may feel isolated as they may have no long-term partner or family to support them.
The Welfare team is looking forward to holding its first Pride event next year, in addition to the Union's annual member participation in Pride in London.