Kit for gay care

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By DANIELLE STREET

A NEW re­source kit to ed­u­cate rest home work­ers about ho­mo­pho­bia is get­ting the thumbs-up from the gay com­mu­nity.

The pack­age was cre­ated by the Univer­sity of Auck­land’s School of Nurs­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with a work­ing group drawn from the aged care and gay sec­tors.

It in­cludes a short video, work­books and guide­lines on car­ing for les­bian, gay and bi­sex­ual res­i­dents of aged care fa­cil­i­ties.

Ricky Schamall is part of a group work­ing to­wards build­ing a Les­bian El­der Vil­lage and says the kit is a good first step to cre­at­ing un­der­stand­ing around the is­sue of pro­vid­ing sen­si­tive care for ho­mo­sex­ual peo­ple.

‘‘It’s about know­ing who your clients are and how they lived. Not as­sum­ing that the per­son who vis­its you is your sis­ter, when it’s your part­ner,’’ the San­dring­ham res­i­dent says.

Ms Schamall says about 10 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion is ho­mo­sex­ual but many of the older gen­er­a­tion may feel ‘‘pushed back into the closet’’ when go­ing into aged care.

‘‘Try to imag­ine, as a het­ero­sex­ual per­son, go­ing into a rest home that is built for gay and les­bian peo­ple where all the books, lit­er­a­ture and mu­sic are fo­cused on gay life. And where it is as­sumed that you are ho­mo­sex­ual as well. It would make for very hard liv­ing. It’s emo­tion­ally very stress­ful.’’

Project leader Michal Boyd says re­search shows staff work­ing in care fa­cil­i­ties may be un­aware of their own prej­u­dices or the unique need of ho­mo­sex­ual res­i­dents and their fam­i­lies.

The kit has been de­liv­ered to more than 200 aged care work­ers and geron­tol­ogy nurse spe­cial­ists.

Dr Boyd says feed­back so far has been pos­i­tive.

De­vel­op­ment of the kit was funded by the Rule Foun­da­tion, a char­ity con­cerned with the well­be­ing and health of gay, les­bian, bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der and in­ter­sex peo­ple.

Chair­man Stephen Park says the main aim is to raise aware­ness.

‘‘One of the big chal­lenges is the re­la­tion­ships be­tween res­i­dents them­selves. Res­i­dents can of­ten re­vert to be­hav­iours from their teenage years, and if you grew up in an en­vi­ron­ment that wasn’t tol­er­ant of dif­fer­ences – that can come out.’’

The foun­da­tion put about $40,000 to­wards the kit.

Mr Park says the kit is in use around Auck­land and there are also plans to dis­trib­ute it around the coun­try.

Aged care provider the Sel­wyn Foun­da­tion is among a few non-profit aged care providers that have ac­tively sought out the re­source.

Gen­eral man­ager op­er­a­tions Hilda John­sonBo­gaerts says it has been used on a trial ba­sis and will now be rolled out among all staff.

‘‘We aim to be re­spon­sive to the needs of the in­di­vid­u­als and their fam­i­lies at all times,’’ she says.

Photo: DANIELLE STREET

El­derly is­sues: Ricky Schamall is sec­re­tary of the Les­bian El­der Vil­lage project and says aged care providers should never as­sume any­thing about a pa­tient’s sex­u­al­ity.

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