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“Could We Hold Hands?” Older Lesbian and Gay Couples’ Perceptions of Long-Term Care Homes and Home Care

  • Charles Furlotte (a1), James W. Gladstone (a1), Robert F. Cosby (a2) and Kerri-Ann Fitzgerald (a3)

Abstract

This qualitative study describes expectations, concerns, and needs regarding long-term care (LTC) homes and home care services of 12 older lesbian and gay couples living in Canada. Our findings reflect four major themes: discrimination, identity, expenditure of energy, and nuanced care. Discrimination involved concerns about covert discrimination; loss of social buffers as one ages; and diminished ability to advocate for oneself and one’s partner. Identity involved anticipated risk over disclosing one’s sexual identity; the importance of being identified within a coupled relationship; and the importance of access to reference groups of other gay seniors. We conclude that partners were burdened by the emotional effort expended to hide parts of their identity, assess their environments for discrimination, and to placate others. Nuanced care involved a mutual level of comfort experienced by participants and their health care providers. These themes inform understandings of LTC homes and home care services for lesbian and gay older couples.

Cette étude qualitative décrit les attentes, les préoccupations et les besoins en matière de services de soins de longue durée et de soins à domicile de 12 couples de lesbiennes et de gais plus âgés qui habitent au Canada. Nos résultats reflètent quatre grands thèmes: la discrimination, l’identité, les dépenses d’énergie, et les soins nuancés. Discrimination a été caractérisée par des préoccupations concernant une discrimination déguisée; perte d’amortisseurs sociaux lorsque l’on vieillit; diminution de la capacité de plaider pour soi-même et l’autre conjoint. Les questions d’identité ont inclus le risque prévu sur la divulgation de son identité sexuelle; l’importance centrale d’être identifié comme un partenaire dans une relation couplée; et l’importance d’avoir accès à des groupes de référence constitués d’autres aînés gais. Nous concluons que les partenaires sont accablés par le travail émotionnel de dépenser de l’énergie à cacher une partie de leur identité, l’évaluation de leurs environnements de discrimination et d’apaiser autres. Les participants suggèrent que les soins nuancéssont nécessaires, ce qui implique sentir à l’aise avec les fournisseurs de soins de santé; ayant fournisseurs sentir à l’aise avec eux; et une dualité de nécessité entre vouloir être considéré comme le même, tout en même temps également reconnu comme unique. Ces thèmes informent ententes de services de soins et de soins à domicile à long terme pour les couples lesbiens et gais plus âgés.

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Corresponding author

La correspondance et les demandes de tire-à-part doivent être adressées à : / Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to: Charles Furlotte School of Social Work Kenneth Taylor Hall (KTH), Room 319 McMaster University 1280 Main St. West Hamilton, ON L8S 4M4 (furlotcr@mcmaster.ca)

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Keywords

“Could We Hold Hands?” Older Lesbian and Gay Couples’ Perceptions of Long-Term Care Homes and Home Care

  • Charles Furlotte (a1), James W. Gladstone (a1), Robert F. Cosby (a2) and Kerri-Ann Fitzgerald (a3)

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