Make LGBTQ Elders Feel Welcome and Cared For: Join HRC and SAGE’s Long-term Care Equality Index

Thank you to Dan Stewart for contributing this guest post. Dan Stewart is the Associate Director of the Aging Equality Project for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and directs the Long-Term Care Equality Index (LEI). Dan received his BA in Psychology from Saint Louis University and an MS in Gerontology from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Through his experience in the aging field as a professional, his work as a researcher, and his dedication to advocating on behalf of the LGBTQ community, Dan shares his expertise nationally.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) older adults experience many of the same concerns while aging and seeking care as anyone else. However, there are additional concerns that are unique to LGBTQ older adults. For example, when looking for housing and seeking care, LGBTQ older adults may ask themselves, will I be turned away?—Will I receive equal treatment?— Will I have to hide who I am and go back into the closet? Over 60% of LGBTQ older adults surveyed by AARP fear they may be refused or receive limited care because of their identity. 

No one should fear rejection or discrimination when seeking the care they need.

LGBTQ older adults and their loved ones are actively seeking LGBTQ-inclusive residential long-term care providers. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and SAGE believe most residential long-term care providers want LGBTQ residents to feel welcomed and at home. Now providers, professionals, LGBTQ older adults, and their care partners have a tool to find LGBTQ-inclusive care: The Long-Term Care Equality Index (LEI)

The LEI is an assessment and benchmarking tool for LGBTQ-inclusive policies and best practices in residential long-term care (and senior housing). Questions are rooted in four criteria of LGBTQ-inclusion: inclusive non-discrimination and visiting policies, resident services and support, employee benefits and procedures, and resident and community engagement. The LEI supports communities to grow their LGBTQ inclusion efforts year over year.

The following types of communities are encouraged to participate:

  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Assisted Living Facilities
  • Independent Living Communities
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities (aka Life Plan Communities)
  • Affordable Senior Housing 
  • Free-Standing Hospice Facilities

Communities that participate will receive public recognition, technical assistance in providing a high-quality welcoming environment, access to an exclusive executive briefing, and steps to improve overall diversity, equity, and inclusion campus-wide. 

You do not have to wait to check your organization’s LGBTQ inclusivity! Ensuring your organization has inclusive discrimination protections for LGBTQ people is essential. This is especially true in 25 states, such as Missouri, where LGBTQ people can still be legally denied housing and fired. See if your community has the following foundational policies and practices:

  1. Does your enumerated resident non-discrimination policy explicitly include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (in addition to race, religion, etc.)?
  2. Does your employee non-discrimination policy explicitly include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”?
  3. Are you communicating your inclusive policies? (e.g., on your website, on job applications, in documents given to new residents)

This Pride month, June is a great time to begin conversations around LGBTQ inclusivity in your community. Do you have leadership on board and are ready to start? Join by Signing the Commitment to Caring Pledge Today!

Interested in learning more? Visit us at TheLEI.org, review our frequently asked questions, or email us at LEI@hrc.org.

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