INCLUSIVITY IN AGED CARE – ‘Making LGBTI Inclusion Happen! Community of Practice’

GRAIBy Jacqui Tibbits, GRAI Deputy Chair and Director Consultivation

The ageing LGBTI community brings with it common but also unique needs when accessing services due to their lived experiences which include prejudices, misunderstandings, harassment, exclusion and legal persecution. These experiences have left a regrettable legacy of LGBTI elders being mostly invisible and poorly understood within the aged care sector.

Since 2005, GRAI (GLBTI Rights in Ageing Inc) have been instrumental in progressing LGBTI inclusive aged care practices in Western Australia and further afield. In June 2016, GRAI organised a landmark seminar called Making LGBTI Inclusion Happen! to celebrate the progress of and engagement with the WA aged care sector in the area of LGBTI social inclusion. The event saw approximately 50 attendees come together and from this event the Making LGBTI Inclusion Happen! Community of Practice was formed.

The first of its kind in Australia, the Community of Practice has high hopes and a broad base, and plans to work towards the promotion of sustainable and inclusive practices in home, residential and palliative care by:

  • exploring practices and environments of aged care providers
  • identifying challenging areas and examining strategies to overcome these
  • collecting, exchanging and improving resources
  • identifying and sharing research, and
  • creating a peer support network

Membership of the Community of Practice comprises representatives from aged care services who are already committed to LGBTI inclusivity and would like to promote this journey within the aged care sector. Member organisations include service providers, consultants and peak bodies.

Meeting bi-monthly, the Community of Practice has now met three times, with the group’s membership presently capped for the next 12 months to build consistency in developing our research and working relationships.

During this process the representatives are building on and sharing their skills and knowledge in understanding the diversity and individual needs of LGBTI people. The group will also mutually explore and collate useful resources to support inclusive service provision for LGBTI elders and articulate a vision of future aged care practices. It is anticipated this will contribute to the sustainability of LGBTI inclusive practices throughout the sector as each representative returns to their organisations with enthusiasm, ideas, resources, support and greater human capital.

The first project of the group is the ‘Conversations’ open forum on 24 February. Conversations will consist of a panel of elders from the LGBTI communities in an open-hearted discussion with aged care providers.  It will provide a safe and respectful environment where LGBTI elders can be heard – where they can share their experiences and expectations of the aged care sector.

GRAI Chair, June Lowe, said: “It is exciting and heartening to see the progress and willingness within the aged care sector to be sensitive to the special needs of LGBTI elders. Within a very short time frame we have moved from the sector being largely unaware to enthusiastically changing their policies and practices to embrace LGBTI clients. Who would have thought that the aged care sector would be a place of cutting edge social change?” 

The innovative concept of the Making LGBTI Inclusion Happen! Community of Practice has also been accepted as a topic at the 2017 ACSWA State Conference, The Next Move: Make it AMAZEing in March 2017. This presentation will provide an insight into the processes and aims of this Community of Practice, including providing a platform for the voices of LGBTI elders and to achieve consistent, good quality LGBTI inclusive service across the aged care sector in WA.  

If you would like more information on the Making LGBTI Inclusivity Happen! Community of Practice please contact GRAI at info@grai.org.au or on (08) 9436 3422.