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Dr Catherine Barrett
AGED SERVICES, EXPERTS, carers, government and
peak bodies recently came together to hear older lesbian,
gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people's
experiences of ageing and aged care.
As well as examining the impacts of discrimination on
health and wellbeing, the inaugural National LGBTI Ageing
and Aged Care Conference showcased inclusive services
being adopted by aged care providers.
The conference aimed to support aged care services to
not only respond appropriately to the needs of LGBTI seniors
but also to act as advocates for them, as many experience
elder abuse from within their families, said Dr Catherine
Barrett, one of the organisers of the event.
"There are issues we need to understand so that service providers
can go in there and really bat for older LGBTI people and be on the
lookout," said Dr Barrett, who is a senior research fellow at the Australian
Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University.
Dr Barrett described an incident where aged care staff brought a
male resident in for a shower only to realise the resident did not have
a man's body.
"The story unfolded that this was a trans woman who had
transitioned 40 years earlier, but then when she went to enter residential
aged care her daughter told her if she went in as a woman she would
never see her grandkids again. So this woman went in as a man and
concealed her femaleness from staff until this point of showering."
Dr Barrett said the conference brought together key players
including Alzheimer's Australia, Carers Australia, the Australian
Association of Gerontology, the National LGBTI Health Alliance, as well
as federal and state health department officials and Victorian state MPs.
The conference provided an update on the rollout of the National
LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy which the Federal Government
launched in 2012.
It heard from providers who received LGBTI-specific funding under the
Aged Care Service Improvement and Healthy Ageing Grants to develop
and implement inclusive services and support the national strategy.
Dr Barrett said the event was designed so as to "walk people through"
the evidence and the best practice around LGBTI inclusive services.
"The conference started with the government talking about the
strategy; then we went to the experiences of discrimination and its
impact on health and wellbeing, then to older people's experiences
of aged care.
"Hopefully by then people were convinced this was a group
of seniors who have particular needs, and on the second day
we focused on how you can create an inclusive service."
The criteria for the presentations was that they had to be
evidence-based, drew on the experiences of older LGBTI
people, incorporated the voices of LGBTI people, and
focussed on practical strategies, said Dr Barrett.
Commenting on the progress made thus far in delivering
the national LGBTI strategy, Dr Barrett said the workforce
training initiatives had "taken off like a rocket", particularly in
community aged care.
"We can't keep up with the demand; there's been
this fantastic response from aged care service providers.
Because there have been some studies and some media, it got people
talking and that's really generated quite a lot of interest," she said. n
The National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Conference took place
28-29 October at Melbourne Town Hall. Australian Ageing Agenda
was a media partner of the conference. Go to: valscafe.org.au/
LGBTI seniors in focus
As well as examining the impacts of discrimination on health
and wellbeing, the inaugural National LGBTI Ageing and Aged
Care Conference showcased inclusive services being adopted by
providers, reports Darragh O'Keeffe.
"There are issues we need to
understand so that service
providers can go in there
and really bat for older
LGBTI people and be
on the lookout"
www.australianageingagenda.com.au | 57
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