The importance of inclusive care for LGBTI older people

Lgbtiq+ Health Australia

Wednesday, 24 April, 2024

The importance of inclusive care for LGBTI older people

Many LGBTI older people are fearful of engaging with the aged care system and may delay or avoid contact with services. However, aged care providers that deliver inclusive care for LGBTI older people can now have their service recognised via the My Aged Care Provider Specialisation Verification Framework.

“For some LGBTI older people there is a fear of institutional care. That you will have to hide, to go back into the closet again,” said one 71-year-old transgender woman, considering her options for aged care services.

To help combat this, many home aged care organisations are working to be more inclusive of diverse communities. These organisations can now apply to have their services independently verified against the My Aged Care Provider Specialisation Verification Framework (the Framework).

The Framework is an initiative under the Aged Care Quality Standards and Charter of Aged Care Rights, which states that “everyone receiving government-funded aged care is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect, and to have their identity, culture, and diversity valued”.

It was developed in response to recommendations by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety that providers be required to validate claims of expertise in supporting special needs populations. There are nine special needs groups or focus populations recognised in the Framework and listed in the Aged Care Act.

The Framework provides a way for aged care organisations to show they have effective processes in place to provide inclusive and culturally safe services. This improves the reliability of the My Aged Care Find-a-Provider tool.

How does it work?

For services seeking LGBTI specialisation there are two pathways for verification. If a service has Rainbow Tick accreditation, no further evidence is needed for verification. Services without the Rainbow Tick can be verified by providing four other types of evidence out of a list of 10 criteria. These include:

  • display evidence of commitment to supporting LGBTI people
  • staff have completed annual training on the aged care needs of LGBTI people
  • LGBTI people using the service report that care received meets their unique needs.

A complete list of the criteria is on the Department of Health and Aged Care website. For organisations looking to be verified, establishing connections within their local community-controlled LGBTI organisation is one of the criteria and a good starting point. Some of these organisations offer Silver Rainbow: LGBTI Aged Care Awareness Training. A full list can be found at Silver Rainbow: LGBTIQ+ aged care awareness training – LGBTIQ+ Health Australia.

“I can absolutely understand the fear around going into or engaging with age care … when you don’t know what the treatment will be like once you are there. And the solution to it is often just very simple: education,” said a trainer for the Silver Rainbow training program.

What are the benefits?

Aged care providers who have achieved verification say the benefits include:

  • identifying the workplace as a welcoming place for LGBTI staff as well as residents — this helps with staff wellbeing and staff retention
  • providing a point of difference for older people looking for services on the My Aged Care portal
  • recognising an ongoing commitment to providing trauma-informed and person-centred care to all people in engaging with our service
  • demonstrating that their organisation is a thought leader in the sector.

“There is such a history of institutional mistreatment of LGBTI people. So, services must provide more than just a bare minimum of acceptance. They have to go the extra distance by demonstrating support, access, acceptance and celebration of who someone is. So that we know that we have come to a safe place,” said an aged care resident, commenting on the service they receive.

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