“While we know from other research that older gay men experience increased levels of loneliness and isolation compared to their straight counterparts; the findings from this research are positive as they suggest that those men who have access to dedicated LGBT+ community services like the Gay Project experience much lower levels of loneliness and isolation,” says Michael O Donnell.
The research was carried out by UCC Occupational therapy fourth-year student Joy Kelleher and supervised by Professor Jeanne Jackson, as part of a Community Academic Research Links (UCC) partnership with The Gay Project – an organisation that works with Gay, Bi+, Trans and Queer Men in Cork.
“The sample size was small and highlights the need for larger-scale research in related areas but we are very gratified to find that for our community members, engaging with The Gay Project is clearly having a positive outcome,” says Michael.
On foot of the study The Gay Project is initiating two new projects; a series of workshops for gay men exploring ‘life story’ as a helpful tool for growth, and then flowing from this, a new workshop /training module for service providers and students on the importance of biography and safe space in delivering care to LGBTQI+ people.
Gay Project Education Officer, Rita Wild, said: “The study highlights how important an understanding of both biography and safe space is for delivering high-quality services to older gay men. This is a great opportunity for us to work to enhance care for LGBTQI+ people, not just here in Cork, but across the country.”
UCC Student and Researcher, Joy Kelleher, said, “As Occupational Therapists, we strive to provide a client-centred service, therefore it is essential to explore individual experiences of participation for different groups in society. With an increasingly ageing population, it is vital that Occupational Therapists and other healthcare professionals are prepared to work with the increasing number of LGBTQI+ adults. This research adds to the relatively small body of research exploring the experiences and needs of older LGBTQI+ adults living in the community. Further research is warranted to explore the perspectives, needs and experiences of older LGBTQI+ adults.”
The full research report can be downloaded from here