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Swimming upstream: the provision of inclusive care to older lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adults in residential and nursing environments in Wales


This paper examines the ways in which older people's residential and nursing homes can constitute heteronormative environments – social spaces in which the same-sex attractions and desires of residents are disregarded in the provision of everyday care. The aim of this discussion is to examine the synergies and differences between older lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adults' expectations for future care home provision and the expectations of care staff and managers in providing residential services to older people with diverse sexual backgrounds. We present qualitative evidence from research into the provision of care environments in Wales. In this paper, we present findings from two cohorts: first, from five focus groups with care and nursing staff and managers; and second, from 29 semi-structured interviews with older LGB adults (50–76 years) residing in urban and rural locations across Wales. We argue that residential care environments can constitute heterosexualised spaces in which LGB identities are neglected in comparison to the needs and preferences of other residents. To this extent, we discuss how care staff and managers can be more attentive and responsive to the sexual biographies of all residents and argue against the separation of care and sexual orientation in practice.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Paul Willis, Centre for Innovative Ageing, Vivian Tower Level 3, College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK. E-mail:
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Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
  • URL: /core/journals/ageing-and-society
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