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Michigan LTC facilities aren't prepared to care for LGBT residents

January 12, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Associate Editor
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Michigan's long-term care (LTC) facilities have room to improve their care for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) residents, according to a recent survey.

Survey author Beverly Mihalko, Ph.D., MPH, CIC and assistant professor of Health Sciences at Eastern Michigan University, found eighty-four percent of LTC facilities reported they are actively working to manage discriminatory language or behaviors directed toward LGBT residents and 81 percent reported using the resident’s preferred name and pronoun.

"There is a lack of inquiry on sexual orientation and gender identity and staff awareness training which perpetuates the invisibility of LGBT older adults in long-term care and in healthcare in general," Mihalko says to Between The Lines News, adding awareness training needs to be provided for all levels of caregivers, including those in the C-suite.

Mihalko distributed the survey to 440 LTC administrators in Michigan and received 109 responses. The survey included questions regarding admission processes, inclusive policies and environments, existence of competency and awareness training programs for staff and whether the facility addresses needs of LGBT residents in their current administrative policies and practices.

Less than 15 percent of respondents reported offering LGBT events and programs with about 10 percent offering transgender-specific training. Less than 20 percent of respondents self-reported they currently have a lesbian, gay or bisexual resident and 5 percent have a transgender resident, though they had more previously.  

LGBT older adults are more likely to suffer physical and mental health issues and live alone than their heterosexual peers. Many fall back into the closet because of noninclusive practices by LTC facilities and administrative staff.