LGBT seniors fear moving into a retirement home means returning to the closet, a new report has found.
The Saskatoon Council of Aging found gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender seniors are concerned about discrimination and abuse by management, staff and fellow seniors at group homes.
The findings were presented by the council’s Cheryl Loadman at the 19th annual Break the Silence Conference at the University of Saskatchewan this weekend.
“These environments are not really ready for them and have been keeping them in environments that are heteronormative in nature,” Loadman said.
Loadman said staff may not know how to react in a supportive way or may use inappropriate language when they learn of a client’s preferences.
“A progressive environment would ensure that staff are trained to deal with those situations that occur when someone says ‘oh I’m a lesbian and my spouse is a woman,’ that staff react just as they would with any other issue,” Loadman said.
Loadman said small changes to language, views expressed in the work place and support system can go a long way to making seniors feel safe and welcome. She gave examples of hosting LGBT friendly events and putting up signage that supports inclusive environments.
“Management would never encourage (an unsafe environment), but providing a supportive environment is not a passive activity; it requires action,” she said.