Kit for gay care
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.
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.