Posted by Eva Owens
We all know about the booming senior population, right? But not a lot of attention is paid to the growing number of older adults who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBTQA+).
More than 39 million people in the U.S. are age 65 years or older including 2.4 million people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBTQA+).
By general estimates, there are potentially over 4,000 LGBTQA+ Medicaid-funded home care consumers in Washington state, including older adults or adults and children living with disabilities. There is also a sizeable number of LGBTQA+-identified providers.
As an out lesbian myself, I declare: LGBTQA+ people are, indeed, everywhere including among DSHS employees, home care consumers, and trained caregivers. 🎉
At Carina, we want to send a message of welcome to all Carina users who identify as LGBTQA+. We welcome and respect you and hope you can connect with quality home care providers or opportunities for work.
While some of you might be well-versed in working with LGBTQA+ people, we have a few quick tips if this is new to you as a home care consumer or as a provider...
Many LGBTQA+ people identify a “chosen family” in addition to or in replacement of their biological family. A “chosen family” is a group of individuals who choose to play a significant role in each other’s lives, are emotionally close and identify as “family,” even if there is not a biological or legal relationship. This is because some LGBTQA+ identified people face discrimination from their family of origin and choose to develop other relationships to support themselves.
👉 TIP: If a caregiver or consumer mentions their family, respect how they define it (whether it’s their family of origin or close friends who they consider family).
Many LGBTQA+-identified people are open about their sexual orientation and gender; however, there are lots of differences in terms of how people choose to be public or not.
👉 TIP: Do not assume LGBTQA+ older adults or caregivers are open in every aspect of their lives. Do not refer to an individual as LGBTQA+ in a public setting (Senior Center, DSHS, etc.) without first getting permission.
LGBTQA+ people want to work with people who are open and enthusiastic about working with them (everybody wants that, right?)
👉 TIP: Check the "LGBTQA+ friendly home care" option on your profile if you are a provider. This helps consumers know that you have experience with LGBTQA+ home care or you are willing to learn.
LGBTQA+ home care consumers, like all DSHS home care consumers, deserve respect for their identity, culture, and customs when receiving home care. This is detailed in DSHS policies. Being LGBTQA+ is not a choice, or behavior; it is an integral part of who individuals are at their very core.
A recent DSHS brochure on the topic concludes, “It isn’t up to us to make theological, political, or philosophical judgments about personal identities, but we do have a professional and ethical obligation to put biases and personal opinions aside and provide the very best care for those we serve.”
🙌 Here are a few tips to show respect and honor the dignity of both caregivers and home care consumers. The following tips are from DSHS’s brochure “Promoting Safety for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning People”
- Never refer a client to any therapy that "cures" sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
- Practice good customer service.
- Evolve beyond “tolerance.”
- Accept and respect each individual.
- Describe yourself as an ally to LGBTQA+ individuals... and be an ally!
🚫 Avoid the following phrases:
- That’s so gay
- Man up
- That’s not very ladylike
- They live the gay lifestyle
- Homosexuality is a choice
- Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend? Are you married? (Instead, ask: Do you have a partner?)
🤔 Have you faced discrimination from a Carina user? You can use the “Report User” link on the bottom of profiles, job posts, and messages to report any violation of our Terms of Service. Carina does not allow discriminatory behavior or language between users.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share these tips with you.
P.S. Do you have more tips? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love to hear from you!