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‘Dismay’ as older LGBTI people keep facing health inequalities

‘Dismay’ as older LGBTI people keep facing health inequalities

Researchers felt ‘disheartened’ at the results of a study that showed LGBTI people over the age of 50 have poorer health outcomes than their straight and cisgender peers.

Senior researcher Dr Brian Beach from International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) who published the report said they also felt ‘dismay’ at the findings.

‘That word choice is meant to help stimulate conversation to a bit more impetus in seeing something change,’ he told Gay Star News.

ILC along with researchers at UCL, Cardiff University and the Wellcome Trust found older LGBTI people had poorer self-rated health. They also are more likely to have other conditions that impact their health and wellbeing

The research revealed 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 LGBT people.

‘It is disheartening that in 2019 we continue to see health inequalities between older LGBT people and their heterosexual and cisgender peers,’ Beach said.

The analysis was based on data from 24 different surveys. It demonstrated lesbian, gay, or bisexual men and women experienced poor self-rated health 1.2 times higher than heterosexual people. Poor self-rated health was a strong predictor of future mortality.

We need action, now

Researchers called for more action to improve health outcomes. Some of the ways that could be achieved is through inclusivity of mainstream health and care provision. Also, strengthening training of health and care staff and enhancing data collection

‘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 LGBT people being overlooked as they age,’ researchers said in a statement.

Beach said there was still a tendency for training of health and care professionals to focus on treating all patients the same. This was rather than recognizing the specific needs of different groups.

To support inclusion, ILC suggested the development of a national standard or quality assurance framework around equality and diversity training for the needs of older LGBT people.

ILC also called for better data collection on health needs and outcomes of older LGBT people. This would allow services to adapt to meet the demand and needs of their older LGBT population.

‘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,’ Beach said.

‘Health and care staff must be trained to ensure that they are not directly or indirectly discriminating against older LGBT people.’