Louisa Smith

Rainbow Connections: Co-designing training and engagement resources to help community visitors to make and maintain social connections with LGBT+ people with dementia

Dementia Australia Research Foundation Project Grant
In Progress
Project Snapshot

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) people with dementia have diverse and complex support needs. Previous research shows that after lifetimes of discrimination, LGBT+ people with dementia often do not have families they can rely on and do not want to use health or aged care services because of bad experiences in the past. This lack of access to supports makes volunteer community visitors crucial to the health and wellbeing of LGBT+ people with dementia. The national Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) — funded by the Australian Government — supports volunteers to foster friendship, companionship and connections by visiting socially isolated older LGBT+ people. But the growing numbers of LGBT+ people living with dementia present a particular challenge for the CVS. Organisations that support community visitors for LGBT+ older people around the country recognise that suspected or diagnosed dementia often makes visiting more challenging. Supporting the capacity of visitors to continue visiting LGBT+ people with dementia are the goals that drive this project. This project will develop resources to support community visitors to make and maintain connections, friendships, and companionship with LGBT+ people living with dementia. The implications for this project are that it will not only increase capacity of community visitors to LGBT+ people with dementia, but also provide resources for all community visitors visiting people with dementia around Australia.

Where are they now?

At the time of award, Louisa was a Senior Lecturer in the Disability and Inclusion and member of the Institute of Health Transformations at Deakin University, Geelong and an Honourary Senior Research Fellow at AHSRI, University of Wollongong.