BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA), EngAge BC and Dignity Seniors Society (DSS) have formed a new collaboration to promote LGBTQ2S+ inclusiveness and competency in British Columbia’s continuing care sector. Through a series of initiatives, BCCPA and DSS are continuing to raise awareness of the need for “queer positive” care for seniors in the home or in care homes.
“One of the ways organizations like ours can support members of LGBTQ2S+ community is to create awareness of the need for inclusive and queer positive care for seniors,” said BCCPA CEO Terry Lake, in a statement. “Through workforce training and public awareness, we can help people feel that they are supported and safe to be themselves, whether it is at home, in seniors’ housing or in a care home.”
In B.C., it is estimated between 3% and 10% of the population are lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, two-spirited, or transgender (LGBTQ2S+). While many seniors’ living and care providers are already supporting LGBTQ2S+ clients in the work they do, many queer seniors still feel that they must mask their sexuality or moderate their gender expression to “fit in.” This is often described as “going back into the closet.”
“The LGBTQ2S+ seniors of today are members of the generation that spearheaded the original gay pride movement and fought for the rights of all queer people,” says Darren Usher, DSS board chair. “Many have lived very ‘out’ lives and have been connected to a strong community, and they do not want to give that up just because they’re elderly and require care. Our work together with BCCPA and EngAge BC can help the sector to become more inclusive of LGBTQ2S+ seniors and the services they deliver become more queer positive.”
Components of the collaboration include:
- A forthcoming promotional video featuring interviews of LGBTQ2S+ community members describing their hopes and aspirations for queer positive aged care;
- An LGBTQ2S+ educational module added to the newly announced HaIL (home and independent living) training program, supported by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training;
- An update of BCCPA’s LGBTQ2S+ seniors online resource with information and digital toolkits for developing internal policies and staff training materials, and the LGBTQ2S+ resource prepared by Island Health.
In 2019, BCCPA launched the Aging with Pride initiative by:
- Adding the LGBTQ2S+ Inclusive designation to listings on the Route65.ca seniors living website resource to promote inclusiveness within the aged care sector;
- Conducting a LGBTQ2S+ seniors competency workshop in collaboration with Vancouver’s Qmunity organization. New sessions are being planned for the fall of 2021.