This paper reports findings from a qualitative study into the immediate impact of social distancing measures on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT+) older people (≥60 years) living in the UK during the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic. It draws on in-depth interviews with 17 older people and 6 key informants from LGBT+ community-based organisations, exploring the strategies used to manage their situations, how they responded and adapted to key challenges. Five themes emerged related to: (1) risk factors for LGBT+ older people and organisations, including specific findings on trans experiences; (2) care practices in LGBT+ lives; (3) strengths and benefits of networking (4) politicisation of ageing issues and their relevance to LGBT+ communities and (5) learning from communication and provision in a virtual world. The findings illuminate adaptability and many strengths in relation to affective equality and reciprocal love, care and support among LGBT+ older people. It is vital UK that the government recognises and addresses the needs and concerns of LGBT+ older people during emergencies.


This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

Cite as

Hafford-Letchfield, T., Toze, M. & Westwood, S. 2021, 'Unheard voices: a qualitative study of LGBT+ older people experiences during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK', Health and Social Care. https://doi.org/10.1111/hsc.13531

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Last updated: 29 July 2022
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