A Florida-based organization offers training sessions that can help nursing homes and other senior citizen services learn to become LGBT-friendly. Managers of senior care facilities in the Caribbean are welcome to attend or take the training online.
By Thomas Nemel
Among many programs aimed at helping LGBT people live a normal life in an often-homophobic society, the new initiative based in Jacksonville, Florida, is among the most promising.
ElderSource Institute trains businesses about the needs and concerns of LGBT seniors. Florida firms that go through the program and meet other criteria can receive LGBT Elder-Friendly Business Certificates.
The ElderSource training program is similar in some ways to the police training programs conducted in Barbados, Grenada, Suriname, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda by LGBT rights activists Maurice Tomlinson and Tom Decker. In each case, the program run by Tomlinson and Decker trains law enforcement professionals about the realities of local LGBT communities and their particular needs.
Managers of nursing homes and other businesses that serve the elderly in the Caribbean are eligible to attend the LGBT elder-care training sessions in Jacksonville, or they can participate online through eldersourceinstitute.org.
For more information, contact Linda Levin, chief executive officer of ElderSource Institute (Linda.Levin @Myeldersource.org), or Andrea Spencer, director of communications (Andrea.Spencer @Myeldersource.org).
Experiences of LGBT people as they age
Some LGBT Floridians have confronted increasing discrimination as they age, though rarely do they experience the violence and intense stigma that their counterparts can face in some homophobic Caribbean societies.
For 61-year-old Tricia Russell, a trans woman in St. Augustine, shopping is a harrowing experience. She says that store attendants always keep a wary eye on her and monitor her movements. Some of them respond negatively when they hear her deep voice in a feminine body. Some law enforcement personnel harass her.
Vicki, a 76-year-old woman who considers herself a radical feminist lesbian, says she gets a mixed reaction when she travels outside Jacksonville, which is relatively accepting of LGBT people.
This is ElderSource’s description of its online LGBT Elder Cultural Competency Training:
As any other older adult, LGBT seniors face the typical challenges of aging. However, because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity they are at a higher risk for abuse, isolation, discrimination and exploitation. Therefore, LGBT seniors are five times less likely to access services than non-LGBT seniors, depriving them of the support that they need.
This 1.5 hour informative training is offered online and designed to fill an educational gap for professionals who work with older adults; helping them to better understand key concepts, vocabulary, and the many barriers faced by older adults in the LGBT community. Participants will gain the tools they need to confidently and comfortably work with and care for LGBT seniors. This program will improve the quality of services delivered to LGBT seniors, thereby improving their quality of life. …
Learning Outcomes Include:
- Increased understanding of diversity among seniors, their families and caregivers
- Better understanding of the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity
- Increased awareness of environments that are characterized by inclusion, respect, and dignity
- Tools for learning inclusive communication skills with LGBT seniors, their families, and caregivers
- Lessons on how to use affirmative language for appropriate interaction with the LGBT community
- Action plans to care for LGBT seniors