Australian Department of Health, February 2019
We know that LGBTI older people and elders are likely to have experienced violence, stigma and discrimination throughout their lives. As a result, they may be reluctant to disclose their identities or histories to aged care services and therefore remain isolated or invisible within both the aged care sector and the broader community. Combined with general stigmatisation and invisibility of LGBTI needs at large, this results in a lack of awareness of the unique needs of LGBTI elders and older people, including a lack of targeted services to support them. In addition, the fear of mistreatment or rejection from aged care providers can lead to LGBTI elders and older people delaying seeking care until their health deteriorates or a crisis occurs.
Many LGBTI elders and older people have lived through a time where identities were pathologised or criminalised, aversion therapies were encouraged, and non-consensual surgeries were routinely performed. As a result, many LGBTI older people have learned to conceal their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status in order to be safe, particularly when interacting with the health or social services sector. The fear and mistrust of these services in the past have led LGBTI elders and older people to be reluctant to utilise mainstream services, including aged care. Reliving past discrimination when encountering new forms of discrimination in the aged care
environment can lead to feelings of anxiety and/or depression.
The Action Plan is a resource that will assist aged care service providers to better understand how they can advocate for and support LGBTI elders and older people. By providing culturally safe and inclusive services, providers will build confidence amongst LGBTI elders and older people and their carers, families of choice (who may or may not include biological family) and allies that aged care services are available for them and they will be given the support and care they need as they age.
The Consumer Guide captures the voice of LGBTI peoples expressed through those consultations. It is intended both to help LGBTI peoples express their needs when speaking with aged care providers and as a resource to support people working in aged care to understand the perspectives of LGBTI peoples.