Keynote Presentation: Exploring the Theoretical, Cultural and Policy Implications of ‘Care’ in LGBT communities
Paul Willis, Swansea University
Nicki Ward, University of Birmingham
Julie Fish, De Montfort University
Giovanni Porfido, University of Birmingham
The experience of caring is shaped by cultural expectations, family circumstances and the needs of the person being cared for. Putting carers at the heart of 21st century families and communities emerged as a key priority for family policy in the Carers Strategy 2008. Within this context, hidden carers are emerging as an important group for social work and social care services and for the first time, LGBT carers were acknowledged as one such group (Department of Health, 2008:19). The Carers Strategy for Wales (WAG, 2007) similarly noted that social services needed to consider service provision for individuals on the basis of gender and sexual orientation. In beginning to address the needs of these ‘hidden’ groups funding has been made available through the ‘Caring with Confidence Programme’ to fund training.
Despite the acknowledgement of this as a key issue in policy to date there has been a dearth of rigorous academic research which explores the issues of care for LGBT populations. The limited research that has been conducted has drawn on small sample groups and has tended to focus on specific issues such as carers of people with dementia (Price, 2008, 2010), older caregivers (Brotman et al, 2007; Muraco et al, 2008; Shippy, 2007), and care provision to people with HIV (Munro & Edward, 2008). Similarly, there has been little theoretical engagement with the dynamics and pressures of LGBT care relationships.
This workshop is based on initial scoping activities, which are drawing together a range of stakeholders in England and Wales to explore the issues around caring and LGBT communities. Two focus groups and a series of telephone interviews were facilitated with key stakeholders to identify key issues and develop a wider set of ideas for further research exploring the relationships of LGBT people providing unpaid care for others. This workshop has two key aims: 1) to share emerging themes from our consultations with stakeholders, and 2) to generate further discussion about how the needs and interests of LGBT carers can be furthered through a research agenda.