Missing 80% of these customers?
- If you’re not explicitly marketing to LGBT boomers and seniors, then you are implicitly assumed to be unwelcoming.
- Only 20% of LGBT seniors in long-term care facilities are comfortable being open about their sexual orientation.
- Many LGBT people feel in-home caregivers are not the solution: paid caregivers may be biased, or feared biased.
- The senior living industry is “totally ill-prepared” for LGBT. (Anna Gorman, KHN)
- President Trump has created an environment of increased fear and hostility. So if our efforts pre-Trump weren’t enough, they are certainly in need of reinforcement today.
Tolerating ≠ welcoming
For any business, here are 5 resources to lift barriers to service and be welcoming to LGBT people:
- “Building Respect for LGBT Older Adults.” Sage (for caregivers and healthcare providers)
- “Creating a Healthcare Practice Welcoming to LGBT Seniors” Lavender Srs. of East Bay. Easy-to-access and interesting video training on Udemy, and works on mobile.
- 30 minute video about the unique experiences and needs of LGBT older adults, as well as some best practices for welcoming LGBT people. Sage
- Circulate the whitepaper, “Out and Visible,” and read about the experiences of LGBT older adults. Sage/Harris Nielsen Poll
- Learn how to address LGBT in your communications from GLAAD. Start by reading terms to avoid in your communications, so you don’t use outdated or derogatory stereotypes.
Do You Welcome LGBTQ people?
Unless you are visibly signaling that your welcome mat is out, many people will assume your staff will exhibit the same discrimination LGBTQ people have faced their entire lives.
Marilyn E. Lloyd is afraid of what would happen if an unexpected health problem — a heart attack or broken hip from a fall, for example — forced her into a rehabilitation or assisted-living center.
Would she, a 63-year-old transgender woman, be accepted at a long-term care center? Would she have to hide who she is and go back into the closet “to get the care I deserve to get?” she asked. – From Columbus Dispatch
Resolve Social Isolation
Half of LGBTQ people 45 years and better report feeling lonely, compared to 33% of the general population, according to an AARP study. Nearly half had experienced social isolation.
Many were “pushed out” of their family and social groups during the 1980s and 1990s, a phenomenon matched by discriminated minorities (eg. Chinese, African Americans). Many were ostracized by family and friends after coming out, were wary around work colleagues who might have outed them, or lost friends during and after the 1980s AIDS crisis.
A special and explicit welcome mat will show your senior care organization’s door is open to LGBTQ people. Staff training will create empathy (and reduce turnover).