The level of discrimination faced by GLBTI seniors in aged care facilities has been highlighted in a damning report entitled My People, put out by LaTrobe University researchers.

Based on the experiences of 19 GLBT seniors, the report highlights a culture of overt and inadvertent discrimination in the aged care profession, with carers lacking an understanding of their responsibilities under Equal Opportunity legislation, and seniors suffering as a result.

The paper, which can be accessed online, paints a picture of mature aged gays living in a state of fear and isolation as they attempt to conceal their sexuality.

Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria director Dr Anne Mitchell commended the researchers for their vital project.

This is qualitative and pioneering research that confirms anecdotal reports of the frightening consequences of being old and gay in Australia if you are dependent on aged care -” discrimination, isolation, fear, sub-standard care and abuse, she said.

It also identifies the solution: education of carers and providers to recognise the unique needs of GLBTI seniors and the provision of GLBTI-friendly facilities.

As to what such facilities might look like, or what specific services the community would like to see in the future, the answers are yet unknown.

One UTS Masters student, Catherine Brown, has begun her own study into this area through an online survey to ascertain what our community’s needs and proposed solutions are.

There is so much stuff happening for older people generally, but it seems like there is one massive group of people who are being neglected, in terms of all social policy, Brown said.

At this point, there’s not really going to be one solution. Everyone has different opinions about whether they want to go into gay-friendly retirement villages or whether they want inclusion. All that we know now -” and this is why we need more research -” is that current options aren’t working.

info:
The survey into GLBT retirement options can be accessed at http://surveys.uts.edu.au/surveys/gltbagedcare/index.cfm.

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