Many Australians, including the elderly, identify as LGTBI; people who are either lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex.
While it is often believed only a very small number of elderly people are LGBTI, The Department of Health reports that approximately 11% of older Australians identify as LGTBI.
Although the majority of people are now much more accepting of people identifying as LGTBI, many believe more still needs to be done in the aged care sector to recognise and respect these people’s specific needs.
The LGBTI Strategy
One way the Department of Health has attempted to address the issue is through what is known as The National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Ageing and Aged Care Strategy.
The strategy, introduced in 2012, aims to improve the aged care experience of LGBTI people by ensuring they have the same opportunities available to them as all Australians do, while still adhering to any specific needs that may need to be identified and dealt with accordingly.
The government says the strategy also aims to raise awareness of the issues faced by the ageing LGBTI community, as well as help recognise and value the diversity of the group as a whole.
Money is also being provided by the government to help support the aged care community, but one project currently in development is set to greatly help the LGTBI ageing community in particular.
The University of Technology Sydney, working alongside a number of home care providers, has received funding to develop a mobile app and an online education platform that aims to better educate the aged care sector in providing care to LGBTI individuals.
“We’ve worked closely with industry leading organisations within the LGBTI community, including the Gender Centre, the Aids Council of NSW (ACON) and Pride in Diversity to refine our practices,” said Linda Justin, one of the workers on the project.
“There is great will and momentum within the sector to meet the needs of this community and to truly be LBGTI friendly but we need the right tools, training and support to do it – that’s why we initiated this project.”
Interactive and educational
The online education platform will feature an interactive series that will cover a number of LGBTI topics, including the clinical needs of the LGTBI community, how best to tackle discrimination, specific legislation and also a part covering general understanding.
The platform will coincide with the planned mobile app, which Ms Justin says will only help streamline and simplify the process for everyone involved.
“We knew this initiative needed to be easy to use and easy to access, particularly for staff working in an aged care service anywhere across Australia,” she said.
“The mobile phone app will go a long way to achieve this.”
The education program is set to be broadcast on the Aged Care Channel (ACC TV), which will coincide with the release of the mobile app, which is set to be completed in February 2018.