Report says LGBT seniors worry about discrimination in retirement housing

SASKATOON -- A report to be presented at a Saskatoon conference says many LGBT seniors worry about having to return to the closet if they move into retirement housing.

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The report by Cheryl Loadman of the Saskatoon Council of Aging found many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors feel significant anxiety, apprehension and fear.

They worry about discrimination or abuse from caregivers, staff, management and other residents in residential environments.

The report is being presented this weekend at the 19th annual Breaking the Silence conference at the University of Saskatchewan.

It was sponsored by the Saskatchewan Council on Aging, OUTSaskatoon and the Saskatoon Health Region.

According to the report, managers of residences expressed support for providing the best care possible to their clients, though they may be unaware of the unique needs of LGBT older adults.

As a result, none provide programming or services, and importantly, anti-discrimination policies specific to LGBT residents.

There also seemed to be little or no training of staff on LGBT issues, and interview subjects were exceedingly concerned about their safety should they be "outed" in these settings.

The report says the first step is awareness and education, followed by simple actions that lead to a positive shift in the environment for LGBT residents through hiring, training and language policies, as well as standard of care policies that include reference to LGBT.

Also identified are a number of considerations for the physical environment to make it more welcoming for LGBT seniors, such as having supportive signage, reaching out to members of the LGBT community, recruiting LGBT volunteers and staff to ensure a positive environment, and considering language in the intake process.



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