Understanding social care assessments of older LGBTQ+ people

Jason Schaub In progress  


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ+) people have difficulties when 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. Older LGBTQ+ adults have described concerns about receiving personal care services in their homes. It is acknowledged that older people are one of the groups most likely to access adult social care. However, little is known about older LGBTQ+ people’s experiences of adult social care services (as provided by local authorities), how they experience the social care assessment process and wider social care services. In particular, there is very little research about how social care professionals consider and understand issues of sexuality and gender identity when assessing the care and support needs of older LGBTQ+ people.



This study seeks to address these gaps by examining social care workers’ assessments of older LGBT+ people.


The study will work with three local authorities to investigate social care assessments and how older people with support needs experience them. These case studies will take an in-depth look at the ways that people doing assessments consider issues of sexuality and gender identity. This project is interested in the social care workers employed within local authorities who conduct assessments with older people, including both qualified social workers and other professionals. Case studies will include a survey of all social care staff, evaluating organisation training materials, reviewing anonymised case files to investigate how assessments are conducted, and interviews to understand how the workers consider people’s sexual and gender identity and whether these identity characteristics are relevant to the care assessment. The project will also examine organisational documents to determine how gender and sexual identity are described for practitioners. To understand how older LGBTQ+ people feel about social care assessments, focus groups will be taken with them at each site.

The project team includes people with lived experience of care services. They will be supported to undertake elements of the research including interviews and making sense of the information we gather. Their input will contribute to the benefits of the findings by providing approaches that will improve how the research is undertaken and by making sure that key messages coming out of the study are relevant for service users.

The project team will organise an advisory group that will include older LGBTQ+ people that use social care services, service providers and people representing professional regulators and support organisations, such as Social Work England, Safe Ageing No Discrimination and Opening Doors (the last two are support services for older LGBTQ+ people in England). This group will provide advice about tools such as interview questions and help create the resources based on what we find during the research. The project team will make these resources together with people who have taken part in the research. These will include short films, a graphic report, short papers, and training materials as well as articles in professional magazines and academic and practitioner journals.