Our Fund, SAGE launch South Florida LGBT elders initiative
By Steve Rothaus
“This is an exciting new collaborative effort here in South Florida that will provide much needed help for our LGBT elders,” says Anthony Timiraos, CEO/president of Our Fund.
Here’s the complete news release:
A recent survey by the University of Miami Center on Aging found that 73% of South Florida’s healthcare agencies and facilities report providing services to the LGBT community, even though less than a third offer any staff training in LGBT-related needs. Several leading national and regional organizations are teaming to launch an initiative both to provide needed LGBT training and to help LGBT elders find safe, supportive services.
South Florida’s Our Fund and SAGE USA partnered with the Center on Aging to survey eldercare agencies and facilities in the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. The survey results indicated that, while service providers recognize the need to train employees about aging issues in general, few perceive the need to train employees about the unique issues surrounding LGBT elders. Statistics show that there may be over 43,000 LGBT older adults (65+) in the three South Florida counties covered by the survey.
“This is an alarming but not surprising statistic, and the survey confirms consistent concerns we hear from our LGBT elder population here in South Florida,” commented Anthony Timiraos, CEO/President of Our Fund. “Many refuse to seek services because they fear discrimination or abuse by staff who do not accept their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender-nonconforming expression.” Although South Florida is fortunate to offer elder services by local LGBT organizations, including The Pride Center (Fort Lauderdale), Compass Community Center (Lake Worth) and SunServe (Fort Lauderdale), the fact remains that most LGBT elders in need of more extensive social services, home care, assisted living or skilled nursing will rely on the very same service and care providers as everybody else.
“We know from both experience and research that discrimination is still a problem in many of these elder care settings, and that one of the primary reasons is the providers haven’t educated themselves,” commented Michael Adams, Executive Director at SAGE. “This survey documents that more than two thirds of providers have not taken any steps to ensure that they offer safe and welcoming services to LGBT elders. On a positive note, 83% expressed willingness to provide training to staff on LGBT issues.”
A new South Florida initiative by Our Fund and SAGE USA, working with local LGBT organizations, seeks to change the landscape and ensure that any services to, or care required by, an LGBT elder happens in a welcoming and discrimination-free environment. “Harnessing the expertise of SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, the new POE Campaign (Protect Our Elders) will carefully select leading care and service providers in South Florida and provide them with cultural competency training that has been proven to improve the treatment of LGBT elders,” added Mr. Adams. The POE curriculum and delivery was developed by SAGE USA largely through a partnership with the U.S. Administration on Aging. Our Fund is launching a special campaign to raise resources that will subsidize training for selected service and care providers in the start-up phase of the POE Campaign. Beginning in 2016, Our Fund also expects to publish a directory of South Florida elder service and care providers who have completed staff training of, and demonstrated support for LGBT elder needs.
Our Fund’s mission statement is to promote a culture of philanthropy by uniting donors with organizations supporting the LGBT community. Our Fund is a tax-exempt community foundation organized to improve the lives of LGBT people with a strategy of providing financial resources to non-profit organizations serving the LGBT community.
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) is the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. SAGE’s mission is to lead in addressing issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) aging. SAGE directs the federally-supported National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.