Claims by the federal Opposition that training for aged care workers in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) is a waste of money and may be axed under a Liberal government has prompted UnitingCare NSW/ACT to speak out in support of the federal government’s initiative.
The federal government has identified members of the LGBTI communities as a ‘special needs group’ under the Aged Care Act in an attempt to improve the support LGBTI seniors receive, as well as provide for increased staff training on matters of sexuality, gender identity and diversity.
UnitingCare Ageing director, Steve Teulan, said: “The average age of people receiving aged care is 85 years, members of the LGBTI communities who may now seek aged care were about 60 years of age when consensual homosexual acts between men were decriminalised in New South Wales in 1984.”
“That means they have lived most of their lives in fear of prosecution for their sexuality. It is not surprising that members of these communities may have special sensitivities around their privacy, respect for their relationships, and life histories.
“There is a growing awareness in the aged care industry that the LGBTI communities have been underrepresented and face fears of discrimination.”
According to Mr Teulan, improving the acceptability and accessibility of aged care through training of aged care staff was “appropriate” and “welcome”.
“As with any service to meet the needs of particular groups of older people, training and education is critical. Our community is diverse and we must move with the times to ensure all people are enabled to age with grace, dignity and choice supported by knowledgeable and caring professional staff.”
UnitingCare Ageing NSW/ACT recognised the special aged care needs of members of the LGBTI community by appointing a LGBTI project officer last year.
“The ageing population is a culturally diverse and important group of people - which includes a large LGBTI population,” Mr Teulan said.
“We will continue to support the federal government’s initiative and look forward to providing the skills and knowledge our staff require to provide high quality, person-centred care to all members of the community.”
LGBTI ageing issues have come under wider focus of late following last year’s ground-breaking Caring for Older Australians report from the Productivity Commission which reportedly, for the first time, included specific reference to the challenges facing LGBTI seniors as they weigh up options for in-home or residential nursing home care.