Healthcare and services Housing and long-term care Research

“Could We Hold Hands?” Older Lesbian and Gay Couples’ Perceptions of Long-Term Care Homes and Home Care


Charles Furlotte, James Gladstone, Robert Cosby, Kerri-Ann Fitzgerald


December 2016


This qualitative study describes expectations, concerns, and needs regarding long-term care (LTC) homes and home care services of 12 older lesbian and gay couples living in Canada. Our findings reflect four major themes: discrimination, identity, expenditure of energy, and nuanced care. Discrimination involved concerns about covert discrimination; loss of social buffers as one ages; and diminished ability to advocate for oneself and one’s partner. Identity involved anticipated risk over disclosing one’s sexual identity; the importance of being identified within a coupled relationship; and the importance of access to reference groups of other gay seniors. We conclude that partners were burdened by the emotional effort expended to hide parts of their identity, assess their environments for discrimination, and to placate others. Nuanced care involved a mutual level of comfort experienced by participants and their health care providers. These themes inform understandings of LTC homes and home care services for lesbian and gay older couples.


Furlotte, C., Gladstone, J. W., Cosby, R. F., & Fitzgerald, K. A. (2016). "Could We Hold Hands?" Older Lesbian and Gay Couples' Perceptions of Long-Term Care Homes and Home Care. Canadian journal on aging = La revue canadienne du vieillissement, 35(4), 432–446.

Open Access