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Dementia care and LGBT communities:

The UK is home to an estimated 1.2 million1 older lesbian and gay people in the UK, yet they are an invisible population and rarely acknowledged by service providers and commissioners.

This issue was summarised by the Social Care Institute for Excellence briefing, Working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, which describes how “commissioners and providers don’t often think about LGBT people when planning and delivering services, but this does not mean that LGBT people are not using services or do not want to use services.”

While the existence of a National Dementia Strategy has helped to ensure that dementia is at the top of the national agenda and the Alzheimer’s Society estimates that there will be an estimated 1 million people with dementia in the UK by 2025, there is no specific reference to LGBT issues in the strategy.

Such concerns provide the backdrop to this short case study-based report, which is the second piece of work from our partnership that explores specific support for LGBT people with dementia. This report is published by the National Care Forum (NCF) and the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), working with the National LGB&T Partnership, as part of the Department of Health’s Strategic Partnership Programme. Our work focuses on the needs of the LGBT communities, exploring how care professionals can provide more appropriate support. This report can be seen to complement our other recent publication, Dementia: equity and rights, which includes themes for individuals, carers, commissioners and service providers in relation to equity issues in dementia.

Our report has been developed from an initial piece of work in 2014-15 - a roundtable event and a subsequent paper, The dementia challenge for LGBT communities. The publication you read here is a response to concerns, raised at the roundtable and reflected the related paper, that more awareness is needed about good practice in supporting an under-served group of people.

While LGBT people with dementia share some of the same experiences as heterosexual people living with dementia, there will be many issues that are not the same. As other research has underlined, LGBT people with dementia have specific health needs along with the usual care and support issues as everyone else as they age.