LGBT Elders Raise Serious Fear about Long-Term Care Facilities

From Lezgetreal:

Melanie Nathan

(San Francisco, CA, April 5, 2011)—A majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults who answered a national online survey believe that staff of long-term care facilities would discriminate against an LGBT elder who was open about his or her sexual orientation, and more than half believe that staff or other residents would abuse or neglect an LGBT elder.

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.

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).

“Administrators and staff members at long-term care facilities should see this report as a wake-up call,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Elder Law Project Fellow Daniel Redman, Esq. “An extraordinary 89 percent of respondents—from across the country, from a variety of backgrounds—assert that LGBT people cannot come out in a nursing home without risking their safety. Better policies, more comprehensive training, and an aggressive litigation strategy are all needed to bring the nursing home industry into the 21st century. As the report asserts, “Good care is possible.” By following the report’s recommendations and taking affirmative steps to make facilities LGBT-inclusive, long-term care facilities can do a lot to make their services welcoming to all seniors.”

Said National Senior Citizens Law Center Executive Director Paul Nathanson: “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.”

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