THE lack of appropriate care for many LGBTI seniors has prompted ACON to take a leading role in a nationwide program to improve conditions.
Speaking to the Star Observer, ACON chief executive Nicholas Parkhill, said older LGBTI people faced multiple issues: “Many seniors have lived through a time when homosexuality was illegal and have experienced a huge amount of stigma just for being who they are.
“For many older people, their family of origin have rejected them and they have little in the way of family support as they age.
“For transgender and intersex elders there is a need to provide appropriate care in a manner that is respectful and dignified.”
A central message of the one-day workshops and e-learning tools is that residents of aged care facilities cannot all be treated the same.
In practice, this might mean allowing a resident to have time alone with a same-sex partner. Or ensuring a transgender person is dressed in their choice of clothing.
In addition, homes should have an up-to-date diversity policy while inclusive language should be used by staff.
“By having an awareness of some of the challenges that many LGBTI elders have had to face, and continue to face, service providers are better equipped to provide accessible and inclusive aged care services,” Parkhill said.
The training program has been developed by ACON, Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria, The Queensland AIDS Council and the National LGBTI Health Alliance.
ACON, however, have spearheaded the delivery of the workshops. The organisation has focused on ensuring trainers who will deliver the program outside of NSW are up-to-speed, with ACON taking on the role within the state.
“Because of our capacity and experience, we’re best placed to undertake this kind of work and play a central role in its development and implementation,” Parkhill said.
ACON’s next workshop for people worked in the aged care sector will be in the Lower Hunter on April 16.