lotl-magazine-ageing-transgenderThe vast majority of aged care providers do not understand that older LGBTQI Community may be afraid to reveal their sexuality and instead believe they have never had any gay or lesbian residents, Australian researchers have found.

Amy Corderoy has written in The Age today that nearly 90% of aged care providers who participated in the first Australian survey into their attitudes to LGBTQI people said there were none in their residence, a study by Curtin University and the GLBTI Retirement Association found.

Study leader, Jude Comfort, said aged care providers often forgot how different the situation was for homosexual people growing up in the early to middle decades of the last century.

“When these residents grew up] homosexuality was viewed as a sickness and a sin and it was also on the list of mental illness classifications so they needed to conceal their sexuality,” she said.

“I think most aged-care providers just don’t think about that background.”

In addition, one-third of the providers said they did not offer a gay-friendly and trusting environment, according to the study of Western Australian aged care residences.

More than two-thirds of providers did not think that homosexual residents had special needs and while most residences had an established discrimination complaints process it usually did not reference sexuality.

Ms Comfort and her colleagues have used their research to develop guidelines for aged-care accommodation providers to care for gay residents. The guidelines focus on staff education and training, and improving communication.