October 5, 2015
The attitude toward the LGBT community in assisted living and long-term care venues also can present problems and even make some feel a need to return to the closet. But there are some ways to get a read about how welcoming a facility is to LGBT community members. “Diversity Our Strength,” a toolkit (http://www1.toronto.ca/city_of_toronto/longterm_care_homes__services/files/pdf/lgbt_toolkit_2008.pdf) developed by Toronto Long-Term Care Homes and Services, offers some rules of thumb to follow when vetting a potential retirement facility.
Here are 7 things to watch for:
1.Valuing diversity is reflected in the home’s values statement, and diversity includes sexual orientation and sexual identity.
2.An anti-discrimination statement is visibly posted stating that equal care will be provided to all, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, physical ability or attributes, religion, sexual identity and gender identity
3.Policies, guidelines, and practices of the home don’t contain any barriers to LGBT inclusion.
Evidence of positive signs and symbols displayed throughout the home, such as written, graphic materials, images, artwork and
4.signage that indicate that it’s welcoming to LGBT people. Such signs could include the rainbow flag, images of same-sex couples, and posters, information, and magazines relevant to the local LGBT community.
5.Written materials offered to the public that clearly reflect non-discrimination policies and practices and reflect a welcoming environment to LGBT residents. This would include fact sheets, promotional material, and information provided to the public during facility tours.
6.Language in written forms and assessments that don’t assume heterosexuality as the norm and instead use terms like partner rather than husband/wife, for example.
7.The environment gives a sense of being safe, affirming, and respectful to LGBT residents and their families and friends.
Despite the housing hurdles that face LGBT seniors, the bright side is that there’s now greater awareness and more resources you can tap to get help with LGBT-friendly senior housing for yourself or a loved one.
Center Link (www.lgbtcenters.org/Centers/find-a-center.aspx): Use the site’s map to locate LGBT Community Centers and member affiliates in the United States and around the world.
Fife House: http://www.fifehouse.org
Fudger House: http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/06/30/for-lgbt-seniors-in-long-term-care-facilities-canada-offers-little-in-the-way-of-support/fudger-house-one-of-the-very-few-senior-homes-for-members-of-the-lgbt-community-in-canada-1/
Gen Silent (http://gensilent.com/about-2/): The film relates stories of LGBT seniors and how they feel who feel compelled to return to the closet because of discrimination. It also addresses discrimination and bullying in retirement care settings.