LGBT Elders Raise Serious Fear about Losing Long-Term Care Facilities
Released today, the groundbreaking report—LGBT Older Adults in Long-Term Care Facilities: Stories from the Field—utilizes survey results for the first glimpse into some of the issues faced by LGBT older adults in long-term care facilities. Of the 769 individuals who completed the survey, 328 people reported 853 instances of mistreatment in such facilities. The survey, conducted from October 2009 through June 2010 did not use a representative or scientific sample, but includes hundreds of personal comments offered by the respondents, ranging from reports of staff harassment to staff refusals to provide basic services or care.
Of the 769 individuals who completed the survey, 284 identified themselves as LGBT older adults. Others said they were family members, friends, social service providers, legal services providers, or other interested individuals.
"Our hope is that this report provokes thought, raises critical questions, and compels future systematic research that can be used to dive deeper into the issues raised by these findings and the many personal stories we received," says National Senior Citizens Law Center Executive Director Paul Nathanson.
"In SAGE's experience, LGBT older adults often fear that they will encounter providers who might be uncomfortable with, or even hostile, towards them, untrained to work with them or unaware that they even exist. Even when providers are supportive, fear of discrimination keeps many LGBT elders in the closet and prevents them from seeking the care they need," said Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE. "This speaks to a great need for training on cultural competency and LGBT aging issues, available through outlets such as the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, for staff at long-term care facilities."
Some of the comments point to possible violations of federal nursing home law, while others signify that far more training and awareness by staff is needed in addition to enhanced consumer awareness. The report also points to a wide array of policy remedies that could be enacted to support LGBT elders better and improve the facilities where they reside. The report's recommendations are directed toward policymakers as well as long-term care providers.
The survey, website and the report were prepared by the National Senior Citizens Law Center in collaboration with Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). Survey results, comments and personal videos from LGBT older adults can be found as well as profiles of the authors at www.LGBTLongTermCare.org.
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. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competence training through SAGECare. With staff in New York City, Washington, DC and Chicago, SAGE coordinates a growing network of 30 SAGE affiliates in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Learn more at sageusa.org and lgbtagingcenter.org.