Older gay men are concerned about moving into residential aged care for fear of being ostracised by residents and their families because of their sexuality, according to new research.
Some of the men said they expected to find homophobic residents, care workers or management in aged care facilities.
“The fear of homophobia is not necessarily from the staff, the greater fear can be from other residents and their families,” said the study’s author Dr Peter Robinson, a senior lecturer in sociology and history at Swinburne University.
The men in the study spoke of their concerns regarding care workers and the possible effect of a culture in which opposite-sex relationships are seen as the norm, he said.
Dr Robinson’s study, which has been published in the journal Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, is based on interviews with 25 men aged 60 and older in Melbourne, Auckland, London, Manchester and New York.
While drawing on a small sample, Dr Robinson’s findings echo previous studies that have documented the concerns of many older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people about moving into aged care.
On Thursday Australian Ageing Agenda reported that the Commonwealth is working with sector stakeholders on a new “diversity framework” to ensure seniors who have special needs, including LGBTI older people, are adequately cared for in aged care (read our story here).
Funding for the national training program to upskill aged care workers to provide inclusive care to LGBTI seniors expired last June.
While anti-discrimination legislation has an important role to play, Dr Robinson said he would like to see training continue for staff at all levels in diversity appreciation and knowledge.
Many aged care providers have been implementing LGBTI inclusive policies and staff training initiatives in recent years.
However, Dr Robinson, who is currently working with Alfred Health on LGBTI inclusive practice, said it was a changing area for healthcare and aged care in Australia.
“HIV was seen as the most pressing issue in the gay community for a long time and now it seems there is more space to talk about other health issues for gays and lesbians,” he said.
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