Silver Series: Living in a care home – Back in the closet? Definitely not!
Probably everybody wants to live independently, also when getting older. However, there may come a point when this is not possible anymore. Moving into a care home is a big step. One leaves his/her well-known social environment and apartment or house and has to connect to new people.
For many LGBTIQ this scenario causes anxiety. How will fellow residents and staff react to my sexual orientation or gender identity? Will I be discriminated against?
The good news is: There are already local initiatives to create awareness about LGBTIQ matters in care homes.
Making members of the LGBTIQ community feel welcome and at home, as residents and as employees, can have benefits for care homes too. In some countries, these homes can apply for a diversity check certificate like for example „Roze Looper“ in the Netherlands, „Regenbogenschlüssel“ (German Roze Looper) and „Lebensort Vielfalt“ in Germany and „Pride in Care“ in the United Kingdom.
There is no such certification procedure in Malta. But to some extent, everybody can check the LGBTIQ friendliness of a care home by working through a checklist, like the one developed by LGBTIQ+ Health Australia in collaboration with the Silver Rainbow Training Partners across Australia:
Please find below a few points to consider when choosing a care home:
Is diversity part of the mission statement?
Does the promotional material of the home display members of the LGBTIQ community?
Do house rules and a code of conduct exist to ensure a non-discriminatory environment?
Is inclusive and gender-sensitive language consistently used?
Do residents and employees have access to LGBTIQ information within the home?
Are surveys about the happiness of residents which include LGBTIQ topics conducted regularly?
Do some staff members have specialised knowledge of LGBTIQ matters for example regarding health issues?
Can residents live their sexuality?
Will residents be supported during their coming out or while transitioning?
Are there gender-neutral sanitary facilities?
Is there a list of LGBTIQ friendly health professionals?
Is the care home cooperating with LGBTIQ organisations?
Is the care home participating in LGBTIQ events?
Here are a few links to checklists and guides for care homes and clinics which can also be a reference for you to know what to look out for if you have to or want to go into a care home which is LGBTQ affirmative:
BWHC LGBT & Allies Employee Resource Group
Gay & Lesbian Medical Association
SAGE/National Resource Center on LGBT Aging’s publications
In some countries, there are even retirement homes only for members of the LGBTIQ community.
In case you have to go into a care home, what would you prefer? To live in LGBTIQ sensitive home together with heterosexuals or in a home solely for members of the community?
What are your expectations and demands from a care home?
Are you in favour of a recognition process in Malta during which a care home can be awarded a certificate for being LGBTIQ friendly?