Aged care to be targeted in LGBTIQ+ national health plan

The federal government initiative will include a focus on older people, ageing and aged care.

The federal government’s national action plan for LGBTIQ+ health and wellbeing will include a focus on older people, ageing and aged care, according to a peak body that lobbied for the initiative – which was announced last week.

Nicky Bath

Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda, chief executive officer of LGBTIQ+ Health Australia Nicky Bath said the 10-year plan – which has received $26 million of funding for health research – would not leave anybody behind.

“Certainly from LHA’s perspective, we will be working hard to ensure LGBTIQ+ older people, ageing and aged care are absolutely part of that action plan.”

It’s well-documented that LGBTIQ+ people have poorer health outcomes than the general community.

Launching the action plan during a press event at the Sydney WorldPride Human Rights Conference last week, Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler said the initiative aimed to “close the gap” in health outcomes for LGBTIQ+ Australians.

Assistant Health Minister Ged Kearney was also at the event. Ms Kearney described the $26-million funding as “the single biggest investment into LGBTIQ+ health research by any government – and maybe the biggest investment in the sector altogether by any government.”

“We’re delighted to have that commitment from government,” said Ms Bath.

The action plan will be framed and developed by a national advisory panel representing LGBTIQ+ community stakeholders – including LHA.

“For older Australians, I think it enables us to have a focused look at what the government is actually doing,” said Ms Bath. “I don’t think we have a sufficient focus on ageing currently and hopefully the panel will be able to fill that gap.”

LHA already has an ageing strategy in place for LGBTIQ+ elders, said Ms Bath, “so we do have a platform to move forward from regarding LGBTIQ+ aged care.”

Still, Ms Bath told AAA there was a lot of work to do to develop the government’s national action plan. “It’s very, very, very early days,” she said.

LGBTIQ+ voices and needs at the centre of change

The National Ageing Research Institute also welcomed the government’s commitment to improving LGBTIQ+ health and wellbeing.

Professor Briony Dow

Addressing aged care in particular, NARI director Professor Briony Dow told AAA that – having faced discrimination throughout their lives – many older LGBTIQ+ people feared further discrimination and homophobia when they entered aged care “from staff and residents, and a lack of understanding and recognition of same-sex partners. Transgender people may have additional anxieties involving denial of gender identity by staff and fellow residents.”

Establishing a dedicated focus on the health needs of older people in the LGBTIQ+ community will hopefully “correct inequities that have long gone unaddressed or simply been overlooked,” said Professor Dow.

“This action plan will mean greater understanding of the expectations these older people have for their care, as well as working to alleviate anxieties and concerns that have previously prevented this community from seeking the quality care they need and deserve.”

Professor Dow also stressed the importance of research underpinning the action plan. “Particularly research into models of care that are co-designed by LGBTIQ+ people – putting their voices and their unique needs at the centre of future change.”

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Tags: featured, Ged Kearny, LGBTIQ+ health, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia, mark butler, national-ageing-research-institute-nari, Nicky Bath, Professor Briony Dow,

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