The GLBTI Retirement Association (GRAI) has released a ground breaking report into the state of GLBTI aging with guidelines to help aged care providers provide for those needs.

Titled We Don’t Have Any Of Those People Here: Retirement Accommodation & Aged Care Issues for Non-Heterosexual Populations, researchers from GRAI and Curtin University surveyed around 260 aged care facilities, with one third of those responding back.

GRAI chair and researcher at the School of Public Health at Curtin University, Jude Comfort, told Southern Star the report had two major findings.

“The main finding was about 90 percent of respondents said that they hadn’t had any experience of GLBTI residents or families either past or present,” Comfort said.

“That was disappointing for us because we know there actually are GLBTI people in those facilities.

“The second finding was the lack of understanding and knowledge of recent changes to federal same-sex legislation. Those two things tell us this group really doesn’t know a lot.

“I don’t think they’re antagonistic to older gay people, but don’t think they’ve had the training or the background knowledge to understand what our community’s unique needs are.”

The report identified five key principles for its best practice guidelines — an inclusive and safe environment; open communication; GLBTI sensitive practices; staff education and training, and GLBTI inclusive organisational policies and procedures.

“GLBTI sensitive practices are about recognising that older gay people may have different needs and if possible for facilities to be able to facilitate that happening,” Comfort said.

“We’ve said that there needs to be staff education and training. For many people working in the aged care area, their paths may not have crossed openly gay people so unless organisations provide some kind of education how will they actually learn?

“And we need to see support from the top of each organisation. Unless there is management support and it is encompassed within the organisation’s own policies and procedures then its just going to be very hard for staff to work in a gay friendly way themselves.”

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