GLBTI needs overlooked

WA researchers have developed best practice guidelines for accommodating older people.

Close to two thirds of aged care facilities and retirement villages do not include gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) people in their policies and procedures, according to a West Australian study.

The joint study by Curtin University and the GLBTI Retirement Association (GRAI) also found that most providers were not aware of any GLBTI residents in their facilities.

The findings are based on a survey of over 80 villages and facilities and a questionnaire completed by CEOs responsible for multisite organisations.

Following on from the study, the researchers have developed a set of best practice guidelines to help aged care providers meet the unique needs of GLBTI clients.

The guidelines are based on the principles of inclusive environments, open communication, GLBTI sensitivity, staff education and inclusive policies and procedures.

Lead researcher, Jude Comfort, said there will be half a million GLBTI Australians aged 65 and over by 2051.

In the meantime, she said aged care and retirement living providers need to recognise that some older GLBTI people may hide their identity out of fear of discrimination.

“When a 70 or 80-year-old was growing up, homosexuality was declared a mental illness and it was an illegal activity for which you could be locked up,” she said.

“Aged care groups need to understand that social background and not to just assume that people are heterosexual. That’s a big ask and it will take time but we need to start somewhere.”

Ms Comfort said aged care organisations should use inclusive language and not make assumptions about their clients.

“It’s doing things like acknowledging that a resident may have a same sex partner and that their family may be their family of choice, not necessarily their biological family,” she said.

The report and guidelines were launched by the Ambassador for Ageing, Noeline Brown, who said all Australians should be able to have a positive ageing experience.

“This research highlights the aged care challenges that confront this important section of Australia’s ageing population,” said Ms Brown. 

“As such, I welcome the research as a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate about positive ageing in this country.”

Click here to read the best practice guidelines.

Tags: best-practice, curtin-university, glbti, grai, research, wa,

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