Seeking Supportive Services for Older LGBT Women
A new study from Western Sydney University has prompted further research into support services for older LGBT women.
The main project team at Fair Day!
A new study is seeking older lesbian, bisexual and transgender women to discuss their experiences accessing and using health, social and aged care services.
Accessing and finding supportive health and social services can be difficult for lesbian, bisexual and transgender women of all ages. Often health practitioners do not feel equipped to address the needs of gender and sexuality diverse women, and some women avoid health services for fear of discrimination.
This concern is heightened for older women – particularly those over 55 years of age. These women may be interacting with aged care services and supports on behalf of their parents. In the process of managing their parents’ ageing needs, as well as their own, they often find that many of these services are not supportive of sexuality and gender diverse people. Given that ageing can often bring health and social limitations requiring additional supports there is a clear need for appropriate services for these women as they age. More information is required to influence change; hence, the perspectives and experiences of older women are the focus of an innovative research project being undertaken by researchers at Western Sydney University.
A research team led by Dr Tinashe Dune, Dr Jacqueline Ullman and Associate Professor Tania Ferfolja are seeking to understand the perspectives of older lesbian, bisexual and transgender women, and their experiences with aged care, health and social services. Dr Dune, an expert in sexuality and marginalisation, explains that this research “is crucial for understanding how we can better support older lesbian, bisexual and transgender women as they age”.
Research indicates that older lesbians, bisexuals and transgender women in Australia find it difficult to find LGBTIQ social events for people within their age groups. They have difficulties locating health care providers who understand their needs. When it comes to aged care - many gender and sexuality diverse women worry about sexuality-based discrimination in aged care facilities. Further, many women in this group also question if they will ever be able to access LGBTIQ-friendly residential care later in life if needed.
Although things have improved over the years, there are still many health service providers who do not have adequate knowledge to provide services to older gender and sexuality diverse women. Many practitioners may not even consider that they may be providing services to gender and sexuality diverse clients to begin with! This often leaves these women's needs unmet. Furthermore, many practitioners do not understand the needs of LGBTIQ people, and so often report not feeling comfortable providing care for gay and lesbian clients. Often health and social services do not have policies or practices in place to support LGBTIQ people which can also result in older lesbian, bisexual and transgender women, avoiding health services altogether.
Further research is crucial to ensure that services meet the needs of gender and sexuality diverse women.
So how do you get involved?
If you are 55 years or older and live in NSW then there are two ways to get involved in this study:
- Firstly you can tell the research team more about your experiences by filling out this short online survey,
- Secondly you can get involved in their confidential online forums. In these forums you will meet other similar women, where you can discuss your experiences with them, and help us understand how services can better meet your needs.
If you are looking for LGBTIQ-friendly health, social and aged care services in your area - the research team have compiled a helpful list (which they are adding to every day). Please check it out. If you have any further questions about the study, please contact the research team.