What are social workers’ perceptions of needs and services to LGBT people living with dementia and what factors influence their perceptions?

  • Carl Chandra

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Social Work


    This study set out to explore social worker’s perceptions of needs and services towards LGBT people living with dementia and the factors that influence their perceptions. The focus of the study is primarily related to social workers practicing in England with data collected within this context. The literature identifies that members of the LGBT community consistently experience poorer social care and mental health outcomes compared to heterosexual individuals. These outcomes are related to discrimination, stigmatisation and living in a homophobic or heterosexist environment. The difference in health outcomes between heterosexual and LGBT individuals is particularly marked in the context of social care provision. This is concerning, especially considering the legislative, policy and ethical framework in which providers of social care operate.

    This study adopted a qualitative, constructivist approach utilising twelve in-depth semi-structured interviews. The findings demonstrated that services provided by the research participants to LGBT people living with dementia were often not inclusive of their client’s specific needs suggesting that social workers may miss the opportunities for provision of sensitive needs based care to that population. There were a number of factors contributing to this situation. These include LGBT people living with dementia being treated as ‘the same’ as any other service user, which ignores their unique individual differences, diversity and specific needs. Additionally, it was found that social workers believed that cognitive impairment associated with dementia invalidated the voice of the individuals resulting in expressed specific needs being unmet. In the duration of the interviews, questions posed seemed to trigger awareness of education and training needs. As a result, social workers viewed education and training as necessary in enabling them to work in a competent manner. Participants also spoke about the lack of service provision available to meet the specific needs of this group, which they considered was in part due to financial and resource constraints.

    It was concluded that recognition of having unique needs is central to improving social care and health provision for LGBT people living with dementia. It is argued that responsibility for this recognition lies not with the client but with our service systems that must acknowledge and respond effectively to individuals, their sexuality, gender, gender identity and diversity.
    Date of Award2020
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorTim Kelly (Supervisor) & Trish McCulloch (Supervisor)

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