Pride in Practice
We know that many LGBT people worry about accessing services for fear of experiencing discrimination or even hostility on the grounds of their sexual orientation, gender identity or trans status.
The Pride in Practice programme works with GP practices, dental surgeries, pharmacies and optometrists in Greater Manchester to ensure that all lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people have access to inclusive healthcare that understands and meets the needs of our communities.
Andrew Gilliver, Pride in Practice Co-ordinator at the LGBT Foundation visited Out In The City asking us about accessing local primary care services and our experiences as older LGBT+ persons.
We discussed questions such as:
- How does your GP practice treat their LGBT patients?
- Why is it important that my dentist knows my sexual orientation / trans status?
- What can optometrists tell us about our wider health?
- How can we get the best service from our pharmacy services?
To facilitate this work, LGBT Foundation would like to hear from you. If you would like to share your experiences of primary care please contact email@example.com
Our ageing population: Living longer lives
The population of England and Wales has continued to age, with Census 2021 results confirming there are more people than ever before in older age groups. Over 11 million people – 18.6% of the total population – were aged 65 years or older, compared with 16.4% at the time of the previous census in 2011. This included over half a million (527,900) people who were at least 90 years of age.
This article goes beyond the numbers to explain why census data are particularly useful. What do we know about the lives of older people and the challenges they face? How do the data help to plan for an older population? And, what do older people themselves think about ageing and how we could all age better?
Why are data about ageing important?
Angele Storey is head of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Ageing Analysis team.
She said: “While living longer is something to be celebrated and our ageing population presents opportunities, it also has implications for the economy, services and society. Knowing the size and structure of the population is fundamental for decision makers and policy makers in the UK.”
The ONS works in partnership with organisations such as the Centre for Ageing Better, Age UK and the International Longevity Centre to ensure that evidence on the UK’s ageing population is relevant and helpful.
David Sinclair, chief executive of the International Longevity Centre UK, said: “For all of the big challenges which come with an ageing population, we are reliant on data to help us to tell the story. The census data give consistency, within reason, over 200 years and also allow us to look to the long term. The census gives really detailed local data, which is extraordinarily important. One of the other advantages for us, is that it is accessible and free.
Good quality data presented in really clever ways can identify and target interventions better, that can help address inequalities.
We have done some work that shows if you keep people healthier for longer, they work more, they volunteer more, they care more and they spend more money. You can use data to present solutions.”
How diverse are older people?
Older people are as diverse as the rest of the population, and it is important not to assume everyone has the same issues and needs simply because of their age.
That is the view of Dr Elizabeth Webb, head of research at Age UK, which provides national and local support and advice to older people, as well as the friendship helpline service Silver Line.
She said: “Older people don’t all fit neatly into convenient boxes and stereotypes. They are enormously varied in terms of their age, health, capabilities, independence, disability, their caring responsibilities, engagement with the labour market, incomes, and the extent to which they’re dependent on the state. There are also other diversities like ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity. Later life is diverse and complex.”
What are the challenges of ageing?
The Centre for Ageing Better was launched in 2015. Dr Aideen Young, Senior Evidence Manager at the Centre, highlights some of the challenges facing older people.
She said: “Older people are a highly diverse group in terms of health and wealth, and within that group there are people very much in need – who are living in poverty, in poor housing and in poor health. Their precarious situation has been exacerbated by the cost of living crisis. They are the people that we really need to pay attention to.
We have the oldest housing stock in Europe so there are many people living in non-decent and inappropriate homes. These homes are simply not suitable for people who are older or who have disabilities.”
The UK had been ageing very slowly when compared with places such as South Korea, Hong Kong or Singapore.
Dr Webb added: “If we had more accessible public transport and public toilets this wouldn’t just be good for older people, it would help people on lower incomes, people with disabilities, and parents and children too. A lot of our interests align.”
Angele Storey said a census provides one of the best sources of data for planning. “It can also be combined with administrative-based data or survey data to build a greater understanding of complex populations and their needs,” she added.
Which areas have the oldest populations?
Across England and Wales, 2021 Census data showed that the local authorities with the highest proportions of older residents in their populations tended to be either or both rural and coastal areas. North Norfolk had the highest, where a third of residents (33.5%) were aged 65 years and over.
The local authorities with the lowest proportions of residents aged 65 years and over were the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets (5.6%), Newham (7.2%) and Hackney (7.9%).
Dr Young said: “However, it’s not enough just to know where the older people are because of course it also matters whether they are ageing well in those places. We are also looking forward to the coming census data, at both a national and local level, that tells us about other aspects of people’s lives, for example, their health and the number living alone. We also look forward to data on the numbers of older people from ethnic minority communities because we know there is enormous inequality in how they experience ageing. We need to know the numbers to be able to know where action is needed; we need the numbers to present to policymakers and that’s why the census data is so vital for us.”
Lizzie Gent, aged 64 years, lives in Manchester and is a part-time librarian and volunteer. She moved to half-time working in 1997 to look after her partner Marion who had multiple sclerosis. She died around eight years ago.
Lizzie said: “Like many people who lose a partner, I had to build another life after she died and become someone different.
That’s when I started volunteering and I also joined a choir. I am now chair of the choir committee. I cycle a lot and do a fitness routine at home some mornings. I hope I am going to carry on cycling into my 90s.
Most of my friends are my age and are fit and active. I am also surrounded by really positive older women in their 70s. Some live with things like arthritis or other aches and pains. My mum is aged 99 and lives in a care home. I am very aware of other friends who are struggling to pay for their elderly parents’ care.
To keep healthy and live longer I would advise people to keep active, maintain a good group of friends and do an activity that brings you into contact with people like singing or volunteering. Seek out new experiences and learn new skills. Try to enjoy life as much as possible and go out into the countryside.
People often have an image of older people as an amorphous bunch. It is important to acknowledge that older people have lived fascinating and interesting lives and have individual stories to tell.”
Dr Young encouraged people to think about the fact that they are going to get older themselves. She said: “Ageism is discrimination against your future self and that makes no sense.”
Max, a young trans guy guides us through his discoveries around social touch with a funny and heart-warming animation.