Bay Area’s senior care, in-home care and non-medical home care provider, Reliable Caregivers, has embarked on a sensitivity training program for its staff and caregivers, called “Best Practices: Steps Toward LGBT Inclusion.” Michelle Alcedo, the director of education and outreach for Openhouse, gives the presentation.
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults are resilient and tenacious and are also five times less likely to seek health and social services than their heterosexual peers because of fear of harassment, discrimination and compromised care,” Alcedo said. “The Openhouse cultural humility training offers a dynamic and engaging way for providers to learn about the unique needs and challenges facing LGBT older adults. Training participants acquire tools and best practices to effectively serve LGBT seniors so they may age with dignity and authenticity in the place they call home.”
The first training was a four-hour class on April 5. Subsequent classes will be scheduled later in the year at Reliable Caregivers’ office in San Francisco.
The sensitivity training program for LGBT inclusion touched on the following points:
1) Setting the tone of respect. Heterosexuality must not be assumed, even when the client is married, or has children or grandchildren. Some came out later in life or may still be married today. No matter what the circumstances of a person’s life or how they appear, it can’t be determined if a person is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. By avoiding assumptions, a strong message can be sent to all seniors that being LGBT is not taboo.
2) Creating a culture of respect for diversity. From the start, a culture of respect is communicated and promoted. While everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and opinions, LGBT seniors need to know that racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic remarks or actions are not tolerated.
3) Not to assume that homophobia and transphobia affect only LGBT clients. They may have children, grandchildren and other relatives and friends who are LGBT.
4) To communicate that there is no discrimination for any legal class of protected individuals as well as gender identity and sexual orientation.
5) Creating safety. How to handle comments, questions and concerns from clients about sexual orientation and gender identity is learned to emphasize a policy of confidentiality. Utmost respect for everyone’s choices on how they want to live their lives is emphasized.
There is no dispute among health professionals that isolation is an enormous threat to the health and well-being of seniors, and the threat affects the LGBT community disproportionately. A 2003 Openhouse study found that Bay Area LGBT residents over age 60 were twice as likely to live alone compared to their non-LGBT peers. Without children, partners or close relatives, few LGBT seniors could identify anyone who could assist them if they were to need long-term care.
Creating a safe and welcoming environment for all seniors-including those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender-is a value that Reliable Caregivers holds as very important.
For more information about Openhouse, call 415-296-8995 or visit www.openhouse-sf.org. Openhouse is located at 870 Market St., Suite 458 in San Francisco.
For more information about the LGBT inclusion training program or any of Reliable Caregivers’ services, call 415-766-0279, view the senior care specialists on the Web at www.reliablecaregivers.com or visit 1700 California St., Suite 400, in San Francisco.
Source: Reliable Caregivers