The Commitment to Caring Pledge is the first step in the Long-Term Care Equality Index. Residential Long-Term Care facilities are invited to sign the pledge as an indication of their intention to adopt the LGBTQ inclusive policies and practices necessary to provide culturally competent and responsive care to LGBTQ older adults.
Experts predict that as many as 4.7 million older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) older adults may need supportive care and services by the year 2030. While LGBTQ adults confront the same issues everyone else does when choosing aging services -- where to live, how to afford rising costs of housing and healthcare, and how to stay with loved ones -- the reality of life in long-term care for LGBTQ people can be drastically different from their non-LGBTQ peers. Stigmatization, lack of identity-affirming treatment and experiences of discrimination and violence can lead to avoiding necessary services, chronic stress and increased social isolation among LGBTQ older adults. Additionally, approximately 20 percent of LGBTQ older adults are people of color who as a group face increased health disparities, higher levels of stigma and have experienced more LGBTQ-related discrimination than their white counterparts, leaving them more at risk of not seeking or receiving the services they need.
A recent national survey of LGBTQ older adults by AARP found that more than 60 percent of those surveyed were concerned about how they would be treated in a long-term care setting, including fear that they might be refused or receive limited care; be in danger of neglect or abuse; or face verbal or physical harassment. The same survey found that more than 80 percent of respondents would be more comfortable if long-term care communities took actions to intentionally affirm LGBTQ adults.
SAGE, the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ older people, and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF), the educational arm of the nation’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for LGBTQ people, are joining forces to launch the Long-Term Care Equality Index (LEI) to promote equitable and inclusive care for LGBTQ older people in residential long-term care communities.
SAGE and HRC Foundation believe that most long-term care communities do not want LGBTQ older adults to face discrimination or have to worry about the care that they will receive. But these communities may be unsure how to protect their LGBTQ residents from discrimination, provide them with optimal care and extend a warm welcome to allay their concerns. The LEI will encourage and help long-term care communities to adopt policies and practices that provide culturally competent and responsive care to LGBTQ older adults.