Involving LGBTQ+ people with lived experience of social care in research

Featured article - 03 March 2022
By Dr Liadh Timmins, Research Fellow, Department of Social Work and Social Care, University of Birmingham

Dr Liadh Timmins, Research Fellow, Department of Social Work and Social Care, University of Birmingham

Research on the experiences of older LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and other sexual and gender minorities) people accessing social care services shows that they have difficulties interacting with social workers and social care workers and are often anxious about discrimination or abuse as a result of their sexual or gender identity.

For example, Annie, who took part in one of these studies, had this to say about the prospect of social care workers giving services in her home:

What would worry me is somebody who was an evangelical Christian coming in and suddenly realising they were in a gay environment and possibly saying or doing something and storming out and not coming up and creating a fuss—you don’t want fuss as you get older.

This is heightened by the lack of training for care staff and implicit assumptions that everyone is heterosexuality and cisgender embedded within assessment and referral forms. We started the LOASCA study to understand and improve social care assessments for older LGBTQ+ people in England so that we can address these problems. In LOASCA, we’re looking at how social care workers in England engage with sexual orientation and gender identity during assessments and we’re gathering the experiences of older LGBTQ+ people, particularly how they perceive their identity has been considered in these assessments.

For LOASCA to really work, we’re looking for older LGBTQ+ people (60+ years of age) to contribute to the study as co-researchers. We’re particularly looking for older LGBTQ+ people with lived experience relating to social care because those who have these experiences have important insights that can really help the project flourish. Co-researchers will be involved in core aspects of our study’s data collection and analysis, including co-facilitating focus groups, and interpreting interviews and other documents.

When we’ve finished the study, we’ll be producing several outputs including a practice knowledge brief, a graphic report (like a comic book), and a short film. We will also present our findings to each of our study sites, specifying how they can make the assessment experience for older LGBTQ+ people better. We hope that this way we can improve things both at these sites and across England.

If you would like to express an interest in becoming a co-researcher or ask any questions, you can contact us by emailing Dr Liadh Timmins at l.timmins@bham.ac.uk Please tell us a bit about yourself in the email and why you are expressing interest in this role and project. We’ll arrange a follow-up call with you to discuss.

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