A man experienced homophobic abuse in a care home that left him with bruising on his body and an apparent cigarette burn on his hand, his partner has said, as he said people were being pushed “back into the closet” when at their most vulnerable.
Ted Brown said his civil partner, the LGBT activist Noel Glynn, who died in 2021, was beaten, taunted and mistreated by care home staff. He said they also refused to recognise their relationship – referring to Brown as Glynn’s “friend” or “father”.
Brown said two whistleblowers came forward to confirm his suspicions that Glynn had been attacked by staff at Albany Lodge nursing home in Croydon, south London, because of his sexuality after he was “outed as a gay man”.
The whistleblowers claimed that, on one occasion when Glynn was walking through the home with two other residents, two staff members approached him and asked: “Are you a gay man? Do you like gay men?”
He was then allegedly dragged into his room and other residents heard a “disturbance going on and Noel’s voice”, Brown said. The care home suspended the suspected staff members for two weeks, but Brown said they returned to the home “on another floor”.
In January 2019, Glynn told a social worker: “I don’t like it here, they beat me up.” The police took no action after Brown reported the suspected abuse. The social worker said Albany Lodge was “not suitable” and recommended that he be moved. But Glynn was left in the home for nine more months.
Brown had initially become concerned about Glynn’s wellbeing when he found out he had tried to leave the home four times.
He brought a civil case against Lambeth council on behalf of Glynn, who had dementia. In a proposed settlement, the council admitted Glynn’s placement there from December 2018 to October 2019 was “not in his best interests” and offered to pay £30,000 compensation. Brown accepted the offer but no payment has yet been received.
Brown was able to act on his partner’s behalf after being granted power of attorney and being made a litigation friend, giving him rights over his partner’s health and finances. As part of his responsibilities towards Glynn, Brown paid £1,400 a month towards his care at the home. “I was paying to basically have Noel beaten up,” he said.
Glynn, a former teacher and activist, died in the early hours of 31 December 2021 after he fell and fractured his ribs.
The couple in earlier times. Brown paid £1,400 a month towards Glynn’s care at Albany Lodge. Photograph: Ted Brown
Brown joined the Gay Liberation Front when he was 20 and, in 1972, helped organise the first Pride event in the UK, where the two met. He said older LGBT people were being forced “back into the closet” because of fears of how they would be treated in care homes.
“Several of us fought to get the rights that we’ve got now and, as we get older, we have the frightening reality that we have to go back into the closet if we go into a care home.”
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Homophobic abuse in such settings is on the rise, according to Eileen Chubb, a former care worker and whistleblower at Compassion in Care, which campaigns to end abusive treatment in homes.
She said the charity had received 423 reports of homophobic abuse in care homes across the UK and Chubb said this was “just the tip of the iceberg”.
She said: “It shocked us that, in this day and age, this kind of thing could be happening. But it is a massive problem in the care system. People have had bibles put in their rooms because staff think they need to repent before they die … these views aren’t compatible with care.”
A Lambeth council spokesperson said: “The council took responsibility for Mr Glynn in 2018 after he was placed in a care setting in Croydon following a spell in hospital. When allegations of abuse were made, the council fully investigated and shared the outcome with the police for follow-up action.
“In agreement with Mr Glynn, the council supported his move to more suitable accommodation in 2019.
“We are unable to comment further on this case due to ongoing legal action, but recognise there is a wider systemic issue of homophobic discrimination within the UK care system which locally Lambeth council is working hard to address.”
A spokesperson from Future Care Group, which owns Albany Lodge, said: “London Residential Healthcare worked closely with the authorities in an investigation relating to Mr Glynn, which was closed at the time with recommendations that have been implemented.
“The health and wellbeing of our residents has always been our greatest priority and, in line with our values, we have mandatory diversity and equality training for all staff.”