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E XPLORING QUEER CARE IN SOCIAL WORK – M EETING THE NEEDS AND INTERESTS OF LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER (LGBT) CARERS Julie Fish, De Montfort.

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Presentation on theme: "E XPLORING QUEER CARE IN SOCIAL WORK – M EETING THE NEEDS AND INTERESTS OF LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER (LGBT) CARERS Julie Fish, De Montfort."— Presentation transcript:

1 E XPLORING QUEER CARE IN SOCIAL WORK – M EETING THE NEEDS AND INTERESTS OF LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER (LGBT) CARERS Julie Fish, De Montfort University Research conducted with Paul Willis, Swansea University Nicki Ward, University of Birmingham ESRC Carers’ seminar

2 H IDDEN C ARERS – H IDDEN N EEDS ‘The experience of caring will differ, of course, according to the circumstances of the person cared for, and the cultural expectations and family structures within different communities. In addition, there are some groups of carers about whom little is known due to difficulties in identifying them at a national and local level, for example … lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) carers’

3 H ETERONORMATIVITY AND THE ‘F AMILY ’ C ARER ‘the traditional source of care and support for those without full independence has historically been, and continues to be, the family’ ‘the family is the cornerstone of much of the care and support we need, and will continue to need in the future’ ‘carers must, over the next 10 years, be elevated to the centre of family policy and receive the recognition and status they deserve’. ‘the role of the individual is to recognise that caring for a family member, friend or partner is one of the responsibilities we all potentially face as part of family life’

4 S COPING STUDY OF ISSUES FOR LGBT CARERS Existing research on LGBT carers Pockets of research under themes of ‘illness’ and ‘capacity’, e.g. dementia, HIV/AIDS Focus of research into gay men caring for partners/ friends with HIV/AIDS The missing ‘T’ - Lack of trans-specific research New waves about ‘queer’ care – understanding non-traditional patterns of care

5 A PPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF LGBT CARERS Exploratory scoping study for research with LGBT- identifying carers Two ‘think-tank’ groups in Birmingham and Swansea, July 2010 Semi-structured telephone interviews with carers’ organisations/ services in Wales and England Seeking directions from stakeholders Communities of interest LGBT sector, Carers’ organisations, academic community ‘Hard to reach’ – or overlooked? methods of engagement Defining LGBT carers

6 A SSUMPTIONS OF R ESPONSIBILITY Doug’s story: (Gay man, previous carer) I had been dating this guy for a few months and he hadn’t disclosed that he was bipolar, so he had been in remission all of the time that I had known him. Then he went into this massive full blown depression, well first there was the manic phase and then the depression followed. And an attempt on his life, a quite serious one. The [ward] staff said well he’s ready to be discharged but we can’t discharge him back to his home because we don’t feel that we can discharge him to somewhere where he will be on his own. So I kind of held out for a while but what they were really saying was we would like you to take him in. So I kind of gave in to the idea against my better judgment really … It was all about this person and getting them well, there was no attention at all on the person who is in the caring role.

7 T HE S HIFTING B OUNDARIES OF ‘A PPROPRIATE C ARE ’ Peter’s story: (Gay man, current carer) ‘ what I found was first of all the expectation, it sounds really silly, but how can I put it, the district nurse would say Peter come in and have a look at this, have a look at your Nan because you are going to have to clean her up later. So my Nan is 84, there stark naked, which it’s my Nan so its sort of ok. And it was commented on by a couple of nurses at one point, but you are gay so you are allowed to see it. Now because it’s my Nan I don’t mind at all that I have seen her naked and I try not to have to touch her in those places when I don’t need to... And thankfully she has this mental ability to completely switch off and she is not slightly upset about what I see of her. But it’s still very uncomfortable for me because it’s my Nan … And it’s a stereotype again isn’t it, gay men can touch, because we are gay men and its safe, you are allowed to do that - but because I am a gay boy, a gay grandson, it’s perfectly acceptable for me’

8 R ECOGNITION OF SAME - SEX RELATIONSHIPS Ellie’s story (Lesbian, previous carer) The situation when I said I was caring for my mum, it was completely different and the only time it was an issue was when my [same-sex] partner was involved. That was about this understanding about who is this person, why should they be involved in this discussion, why should we let them have access… Whereas my brother and his wife there was no question, they understood who this other woman was. So when the four of us were there altogether trying to sort things out, three of us were legitimate and one of us wasn’t …

9 R ESPONDING TO DISTINCTIVE NEEDS IN TRANS CARING Nicole’s story (transwoman) Nicole was there, she’s a transwoman, she was sectioned … I am sure the hospital ward itself is quite nice down there, it’s quite nicely laid out. But there was no sense of trying to make her feel comfortable as a transsexual … because she was sectioned she wasn’t allowed a razor which means ultimately she was growing a beard whilst in there. And I think that sort of atmosphere just made her look in the mirror, feel bad, she got worse, and it was a kind of spiraling thing. I don’t think there was any acknowledgement whatsoever by the staff towards the transgender aspect of it’

10 M APPING THE R ESEARCH A GENDA To what extent carers do experience homophobia and heterosexism? How do Carers and those they care for handle the process of ‘coming out’ to services? What does personalised care look like for LGBT carers? What is the role of gender norms and assumptions on the caring experiences of LGBT carers? What are the similarities and differences – between LGBT and non LGBT carers; to what extent do LGBT carers experience the same services differently? What are the similarities and differences between L [and/or] G [and/or] B [and/or] T?

11 S COPING STUDY OF ISSUES FOR LGBT CARERS So what did we learn? Carer identities are context-specific, fluid and in some cases temporary ‘Communities of care’ within transgender networks – responsive kind of care (Hines, 2007) Absent presence – Recognising LGBT carers Organisational issues: Disclosure and monitoring


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