27 Oct 2020

The Long-Term Care Equality Index: A Journey Towards LGBTQ-Inclusive Care

LGBTQ older people experience many of the same concerns while aging as non-LGBTQ people; however, when seeking care and LGBTQ, people may need to ask themselves, will I be welcomed?—will I have to go back into the closet?—will I receive equal treatment?— will I be turned away?  AARP think they may be refused or receive limited care because of their identity. LGBTQ older adults and their loved ones are actively seeking outwardly LGBTQ-inclusive care providers.

Now long-term care community professionals, providers, older adults, and their care partners have a tool to address these concerns: The Long-Term Care Equality Index (LEI). A joint project by SAGE, experts in LGBTQ aging, and HRC Foundation, experts in LGBTQ-inclusive policies and procedures, the LEI strives to change the landscape of residential long-term care.

The goal of the LEI is to create a network of residential long-term care (LTC) communities across the nation that provide welcoming care for LGBTQ people and their families. The project aims to support residential long-term care providers in becoming more LGBTQ-inclusive and offering a growing list of inclusive LTC communities for older LGBTQ adults and those who support them.

The project, launched in April of 2019, encourages residential LTC communities (including Skilled Nursing Facilities, Assisted Living Facilities, Independent Living, etc.) across the US to sign the Commitment to Caring Pledge. Communities pledge to complete a self-assessment of their policies, procedures and receive personalized feedback. Questions are rooted in four criteria of LGBTQ-inclusion: inclusive non-discrimination and visiting policies, resident services, and support, employee benefits and policies, and resident and community engagement.

Communities that participate will receive public recognition, technical assistance in providing a high-quality welcoming environment, access to an exclusive executive briefing, and steps to improve overall diversity, equity, and inclusion campus-wide. Working towards inclusivity is a journey, and perfection is not expected. The LEI team is dedicated to supporting your community on this journey for years to come.

As a joint venture between SAGE and the HRC Foundation, SAGECare clients are well-positioned to participate in the LEI. A critical aspect of the LEI is staff training, and all SAGECare training meet LEI training requirements. Contact us for more information about how the two projects work together.

With a dedication to inclusivity and providing informed care, we can ensure that all older adults can age with dignity and respect regardless of who they are and whom they love.

Are you interested in learning more about the LEI?  Watch the LEI video, review frequently asked questions, or email TheLEI@hrc.org

Dan Stewart, MSG, is the Associate Director of the Aging Equality Project at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

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