Perhaps the most impactful step a senior housing community can take in creating a welcoming environment for LGBT residents is to facilitate LGBT-competency training for all its staff. These sessions aim to increase awareness and understanding, and explain core competencies of caring for LGBT seniors. In ensuring that every resident receives quality care, staff will learn about the added dynamics needed to provide a safe and friendly environment for LGBT seniors.
Coalition for Aging LGBT offers a one-hour, participatory, in-service training for staff based on the work of Lavender Seniors in the Bay Area. With permission, we utilize segments of the video “Creating a Healthcare Practice Welcoming to LGBT seniors” interspersed with discussion, questions and contextual application. Co-facilitators (one from the CFA LGBT and one from the community being served) lead participants through segments dealing with basic terminology, use of pronouns, visual cues, and dynamics of the closet such as social isolation, all which can impact accessing appropriate care.
This in-service acknowledges that people are at different places regarding awareness of LGBT terms, history and social issues. We acknowledge that there may be staff who hold differing religious or political views about LGBT rights. This in-service is non-confrontational and focuses on the goals of each community to provide equal treatment, respect and dignity to all residents and what is needed to help LGBT seniors feel fully included in those goals.
We recommend all staff participate in this in-service, as even a single staff member can have a significant influence on the experience of LGBT seniors. By having a member of their staff co-facilitate, we leave them with an identified person they can approach with any further questions or concerns.
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Coalition for Aging LGBT is a non-profit, IRS 501(c)(3) organization
incorporated and operating in the State of Texas (EIN#: 81-1968355).