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Focus on rights for rainbow residents in aged care

Focus on quality and rights for rainbow residents in aged care

Quality care for lesbian, gay and bisexual residents in aged care facilities is the focus of a new resource kit aimed at educating staff about homophobia.

The resource kit aimed at cultural safety for LGB residents includes a short video, workbooks for facilitators and participants, and guidelines on caring for LGB residents.

The kit was created by the School of Nursing at The University of Auckland in collaboration with a working group drawn from the aged care sector and the Auckland LGB community.

This resource kit is in response to the recognition that New Zealand, like many countries, has an aging society that includes an older LGB populace.

It centres on teaching Aged Residential Care (ARC) facilities about homophobia and other issues that may affect their LGB residents. Without such education, LGB may face decisions about having to go back ‘into the closet’ once they cross the ARC’s threshold.

“Our research shows that staff working in residential aged care facilities may be unaware of their own prejudices or the unique needs of lesbian and gay residents and their families”, says Dr Michal Boyd, the project’s leader and a senior research fellow in the School of Nursing.

The kit approaches the topic from a human rights as well as from a quality of care perspective. Workbook discussion questions emphasise that regardless of ARC staff members’ personal views, all residents have the same rights and the same right to high quality care.

“Our intention was to develop a story which touches on residents’ rights and the cultural aspects of being LGB,” says work group member Claire Mooney. “We also wanted to heighten staff’s awareness of homophobia and how to manage both their own and others judgements of LGB people.”

Claire Mooney, in collaboration with Jessica Buddendijk, developed the workbook materials and the short video script.

The video contains a fictitious vignette that tells in brief the story of ‘Chris’ an elderly gay man who is admitted to residential care. The story ends with a twist meant to prompt surprise and reflection.

The project is outgrowth development of earlier research led by Dr Gary Bellamy at the School of Nursing that explored the attitudes, perceptions and practices of care staff in relation to older LGB residents.

While developed for staff in ARCs, the resource kit will have a life beyond this particular audience. The video was designed to stand alone and will be made available online and to interested groups. Raising public awareness about the issue will help to smooth the path of older LGB entering residential care.

“Perhaps one day a care home bus will participate in the Pride parade filled with LGB residents who feel recognised, safe, respected and valued in the place they call home,” says Ms Mooney.

Other work group members who lent their expertise to the project were Nigel George, Robert Ford, Steve Newton, Sonya Caron and Richard Galloway. Graphic designer Tatiana Tavares from Media Design School and The University of Auckland eLearning Technology Specialist Mike Hurst, supplied production expertise. Dr Lisa Williams was the project manager.

Members of the wider LGB community helped out with Rob Calder and Steve Charters, as well as Nigel George, acting in the video. Verity George provided the voice over.

The resource kit project was funded by the Rule Foundation.

The official launch of the new resource kit to promote human rights for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) elderly in residential care is from 6-7 pm on Monday 5th August, at the Auckland Women’s Centre in Grey Lynn. http://goo.gl/maps/YRcva

For more information about the resource kit contact Dr Lisa Williams: la.williams@auckland.ac.nz


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