- People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer or questioning (LGBTIQ) have been identified by the Federal Government as having special needs for aged care
- Strategies have been implemented to improve the aged care experience of elderly LGBTIQ people living in aged care
- My Aged Care can help connect older LGBTIQ identifying Australians to Government funded in-home support options, community care or residential aged care
For some older people, the idea of accessing aged care services or moving into a nursing home can be scary because they may have experienced prejudice from others within their generation.
Given this group’s experiences of discrimination and limited recognition of their needs by service providers, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer or questioning (LGBTIQ) have been identified as being a special needs group for aged care. You can read more about special needs groups in our article, ‘Inclusive aged care: What are special needs groups?‘
This article will outline the initiatives in place to make aged care as inclusive as possible for LGBTIQ older people, as well as how to find LGBTIQ sensitive services that fit your needs.
Federal Government strategies
The Government ensures aged care providers are being inclusive and respectful of people of diverse gender, sexuality or who are intersex, and have a number of initiatives and safeguards in place for LGBTIQ people.
It is a requirement for all providers to be inclusive of people with diverse or special care needs, including LGBTIQ people.
This care requirement is also reflected in the Aged Care Act, which protects and ensures older LGBTIQ people are able to access quality care without fear of discrimination.
According to the Government’s Actions to support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Gender Diverse and Intersex elders consumer guide, LGBTIQ older people should experience a “proactive and flexible aged care system that responds to the needs of all Australians including new and emerging communities, including an increasingly diverse aged care workforce”.
The National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Ageing and Aged Care Strategy, part of the Silver Rainbow project, aims to improve the aged care experience of elderly LGBTIQ people living in aged care, and ensure they have the same opportunities and options in aged care as everyone else.
The strategy shows the commitment the Australian Government has to ensuring the aged care sector delivers care that is sensitive to and inclusive of the needs of LGBTIQ people, their families and carers.
Additionally, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia, national peak LGBTIQ+ health organisation, have been assisting the Government in training aged care providers and their staff in appropriate sensitive care.
They provide resources to assist aged care workers in better understanding how to care for LGBTIQ+ people living in aged care.
Rainbow Tick services and facilities
Some providers go the extra mile and get Rainbow Tick accreditation, which can assure you that a provider is able to provide culturally sensitive aged care.
According to Rainbow Health Australia, all aged care providers should offer culturally safe services for LGBTIQ people, delivering affirmative, responsive, trauma-informed and person-centred care.
It requires the provider to acknowledge the unique strengths and vulnerabilities of LGBTIQ people and have structures and processes in place that proactively identify and address potential risks to safety and wellbeing.
Achieving this requires a comprehensive strategy and the Rainbow Tick Standards by Rainbow Health Australia provides a framework for planning, implementing and measuring this change.
The Rainbow Tick framework is designed to support organisations to improve the quality of care and services.
A provider’s services should include the six Rainbow Tick standards as part of their accreditation, or apply to do the Rainbow Tick as a stand-alone assessment subject to ongoing reassessment and quality improvement.
Rainbow Tick is increasingly being recognised as more than an accreditation program, and accreditation is provided through independent assessment by the Quality Innovation Performance and Australian Council on Healthcare Standards.
Extra supports to accessing aged care
If you are looking to move into an aged care home or require other support services and are concerned about what to ask when you are exploring your options, the Ten Questions to Ask brochure by LGBTIQ+ Health Australia can be a helpful resource.
It provides a list of questions that can help older people with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity find a suitable provider, and the questions are written by doctors, nurses, and other experts with experience in aged care.
This resource can give you piece of mind that you have covered all bases when trying to find the best provider to fit your needs and preferences.
Finding and accessing care options
My Aged Care is a Federal Government operated website and contact centre that can help older Australians access Government funded in home support options, community care or residential aged care.
When contacting My Aged Care, you will be asked questions to help assess your needs and care arrangements, but you do not have to tell them how you identify. You can contact My Aged Care through their website or call 1800 200 422.
If you do feel like sharing that information, they have a duty to respect your privacy and confidentiality. You can learn more about the assessment process in our article, ‘ACAT and ACAS Assessments‘.
My Aged Care will then arrange for a trained assessor to come to your home, with your consent, to assess your care needs and eligibility for services.
The assessor will be able to talk with you about all of your care needs, including any LGBTIQ-related needs you have, how aged care providers will be able to support you, and what service providers in your local area can accommodate your needs.
Discussing the nature of your care with your assessor could look like:
- Asking how a provider makes people feel safe, included and respected
- Discussing any LGBTIQ-related care needs
- Telling them about your partner or someone from your family of choice
The service finder on AgedCareGuide.com.au can help you locate and compare services in your area. In the filter criteria, select the “LGBTIQ” box under the “Cultural Environment” filter. You can learn more about finding aged care services and facilities in our article, ‘Finding a home care provider on AgedCareGuide.com.au‘ or ‘How to find an aged care home on AgedCareGuide.com.au‘.
Once you have found providers that may suit your needs, you can start discussing with the providers about how they approach LGBTIQ sensitive care and see if they can accommodate your needs.
When you have chosen your provider, you can begin organising your new services. You can read more about organising services in our article, ‘Setting up your new care services‘.
How have you found accessing aged care as an LGBTIQ older person? Let us know in the comments below.