Living Well – Supporting older LGBTQ+ people

Written by Tai Pawb

For International Day of Older Persons on 1st October, we asked Sian Evans from United Welsh to talk about some of the work they are doing to support their older LGBT+ residents.


I’m Siân, Living Well Manager for United Welsh.  The Living Well team provides specialist homes and services for people aged over 55, including apartments, bungalows, sheltered accommodation and extra care facilities across South Wales.

Part of my role is to plan and deliver services so that residents can live their best lives.

Having been an LGBTQ+ ally for many years, it is important to me that our homes are inclusive, welcoming places for everyone.  There is worrying evidence that LGBTQ+ people are going ‘back in the closet’ when they move into accommodation for older people.

In 2001, Stonewall commissioned a poll of over 2,000 LGBT+ people The survey asked about their experiences and expectations of getting older and examined their personal support structures, family connections and living arrangements. It also asked about how they feel about getting older, the help they expect to need, and what they would like to be available from health and social care services. They received the following comments:

“From personal experience of visiting older friends in retirement and nursing homes I know as an absolute truth that they have felt more comfortable in hiding their sexuality from other residents and carers.”

“Everything is predominantly heterosexual orientated … It’s depressing to think I might end up in a home where I could be isolated because to disclose or talk about my life would lead to ostracization.”

We aspire for all residents and visitors to feel welcome, supported, and able to live their lives freely and safely. To raise awareness of the experience of being LGBTQ+ among our residents, and to show our support, we are delivering an action plan which started in January 2023. This has included:

  • Bespoke, interactive awareness sessions delivered by the Living Well team at each United Welsh sheltered housing and extra care scheme. Residents fed back that they enjoyed the sessions and we got to hear some great personal stories while increase understanding among the groups
  • Posters displayed at our sites to explain the different communities represented by the rainbow pride flag
  • An inclusivity pledge for Living Well residents, which covers all aspects of diversity, is now displayed at our accommodation. The pledge was developed and agreed with our Residents Forum and will also be displayed on our web-page
  • Rainbow flag displays at all of United Welsh’s sheltered housing and extra care schemes; plus rainbow lanyards for staff and specially designed lanyards for residents to show support for LGBTQ+ people
  • Updated guidance to support colleagues and families for LGBTQ+ people living with dementia.


Here is some feedback about our work from one our residents:

“I think it’s great the work united welsh is doing to promote the LGBT community, taking part in Cardiff pride and making it clear that gay and trans tenants are supported and welcomed when become united welsh tenants.”

“I found the session very useful and made we more aware of the LGBTQ community. It was a lot of information to take and I like to have time to take things in, so I would like more sessions.”

It has been great to hear positive responses from residents about the work we have done together so far. We hope that older LGBTQ+ people will see living in a United Welsh home as a safe and happy choice, where their wellbeing is our number one priority.


You can find the United Welsh pledge to EDI here: Equality Diversity and Inclusion – United Welsh | United Welsh

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