4 - Relationships, families and intimacies


Many older people will have kept their gender and sexual identities hidden and performed in traditional roles as heterosexual partners and parents to avoid rejection and difficult relationships with their families and networks. Some may have lived with great loss, pain and misunderstanding from their family networks as a result of coming out whereas others may wish to be more open having 'come out' and fought for their rights already.

Being open to these possibilities as a care professional is essential and being able to create an atmosphere of trust in which a person can be open if they want to be, without creating pressure for someone to 'come out' This is a skilled balancing exercise and one that many care professionals struggle with. For example, when older people come into contact with care services, they are not immediately recognisable as someone who identifies as LGBT+ and there may not be opportunities to talk about their lifestyles or experiences From the professional's perspective, this can result in their life stories, and in particular their love stories, not being known, understood or acknowledged in the way they should be.


Person centred care and providing quality support to older lgbt people and their social environment

Target group

Teachers and trainers in vocational education and their students


Level 2-3-4 in vocational education


Extra support from the teacher might be necessary depending on the ability of the students to work independently


Almack, K., Yip, A., Seymour, J., Seargent, A., Patterson, A., Makita, M. (2015) T The Last Outing: exploring end of life experiences and care needs in the lives of older LGBT people. University of Nottingham. Project Report.
Heaphy, B., Yip, A., Thomspon, D (2003) The social and policy implications of non-heterosexual ageing - Selective findings Quality in ageing: policy, practice and research 4(3):30-35
Knocker, S. (2012) Perspectives on ageing: lesbians, gay men and bisexuals. York, JRF.
Simpson, P., Wilson, C., Brown, L., Dickinson T., & Horne, M. (2018). "We've had our sex life way back": Older care home residents, sexuality and intimacy. Ageing and Society, 38(7), 1478-1501. doi:10.1017/S0144686X17000101
Weeks, J., Heaphy, B., Donovan, C. (2001) Same Sex Intimacies: Families of Choice and Other Life Experiments Psychology Press,

Tips & tricks

Encourage students to share their own stories (six steps of separation). Guidelines for teachers on using tools and keeping on learning.