Are you an LGBT nursing home resident? The friend, partner, or advocate of such? If so, you should take a look at the new publication, “Residents’ Rights and the LGBT Community: Know YOUR Rights as a Nursing Home Resident.”
The new 4-page publication was produced by the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center, and Lambda Legal, and is available at http://issuu.com/lgbtagingcenter/docs/lgbtrrfactsheet-final
There are not many LGBT-specific rights; rather, there are rights that all nursing home residents are guaranteed by the federal government, and many of these — the right to be free from abuse, the right to privacy, the right to be treated with respect, for example — may be of particular interest to LGBT residents. This document highlights some of these rights, plus gives a short bulleted list of your options if you think a right has been violated. There is also a page of LGBT-specific resources that may be of particular interest to LGBT older adults.
This week California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill mandating that 5 hours of LGBT cultural competency training be integrated into the training received by residential care facility administrators before they can be certified. The bill was Assembly Bill 663, authored by Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez.
Mere days after the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a Memorandum entitled, “Reminder: Access and Visitation Rights in Long Term Care (LTC) Facilities.”
The memo addresses resident rights to access and visitation, noting that LTC facilities must “ensure that all individuals seeking to visit a resident be given full and equal visitation privileges, consistent with the resident preference and within reasonable restrictions that safeguard residents.”
The memo goes on to explain that “Residents must be notified of their rights to have visitors on a 24-hour basis, who could include, but are not limited to, spouses (including same-sex spouses), domestic partners (including same-sex domestic partners), other family members, or friends.” “[R]easonable restrictions…such as denying access to those engaged in disruptive behavior” are permitted.
The memo is available at http://www.washingtonblade.com/content/files/2013/06/SC13-42-Access-and-Visitation-Rights.pdf
The Dallas Morning News recently ran an article showing the diversity of what LGBT elders might encounter in long-term care facilities.
Three years ago Kee Holt, center services manager at Resource Center Dallas, called all the nursing facilities in town to ask about LGBT residents. “I was told, ‘We don’t have that here.’ I was hung up on a few times. I was told, ‘They’ve grown out of that by now.’ I was really disheartened to find that people just didn’t think it existed in those places.”
On the other hand, Ann Walls and her partner Gienna Smith moved into an independent living facility together. “They knew what the situation was, but nobody talked about it,” she said. “We didn’t tell them. We chose to be discreet.” But after Smith died, Walls said, “I stayed there another year and those ladies really stepped up and were there for me. It was like living with a built-in support group.”
The full article is available at http://www.dallasnews.com/business/health-care/20130215-lgbt-seniors-carry-additional-worries-when-seeking-care-facilities.ece
The Huffington Post has produced a 20-minute video, “Retirement Home-ophobia,” that gives a great overview of LGBT housing issues, including interviews with several LGBT elders and housing providers.
But what makes the piece invaluable is a quote from widow Alice Herman that starts around minute 9:20. Talking about the recent loss of her life-partner, she said, “All that made me real was my history. I had a 45-year history of love. And if I couldn’t talk about it, share it, where was my life?”
There, in a nutshell, is why LGBT-affirming services are so critical. Check it out at http://live.huffingtonpost.com/#r/segment/elderly-gays%3B-lgbt-nursing-homes/51140a38fe344437520001da
FORGE’s Transgender Aging Network, in partnership with the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging (NRCLA), is very pleased to announce the publication of new materials on LGBT elder abuse, available at http://www.lgbtagingcenter.org/resources/resources.cfm?s=5
One of the new publications, “A Self-Help Guide for LGBT Older Adults and their Caregivers and Loved Ones: Preventing, Recognizing, and Addressing Elder Abuse” (http://www.lgbtagingcenter.org/resources/pdfs/SELF-HELP_elderAbuse_Guide.pdf), is the first comprehensive article on the topic written specifically for the LGBT community. The second new publication, “Identifying and Assisting LGBT Elder Abuse Clients: A Guide for Abuse Professionals” (http://www.lgbtagingcenter.org/resources/pdfs/Assisting_LGBT_Elder_Abuse_clients.pdf), is designed for professionals who address elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation issues, focusing on what they need to know about LGBT victims.
Both articles are part of a new “Elder Abuse” section in NRCLA’s comprehensive online Resource Center. Other available materials include webcasts, LGBT-specific domestic violence fact sheets and articles, a study of problems LGBT people face in long-term care facilities, a guide for attorneys representing LGBT domestic violence victims, and much more.
Got a supervisor, elected official, or other authority figure you want to persuade to adopt more LGBT-friendly policies? The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) has compiled a tool that you may find helpful.
Their newly-updated “Compendium of Health Profession Association LGBT Policy & Position Statements” compiles information on and links to LGBT-related policy statements made by 11 different health care professionals’ groups ranging from the American Academy of Family Physicians to the American Public Health Association (apparently no health care professional association is going to start its acronym with anything other than “A”).
A 2012 study at Auckland University interviewed 47 staff people at seven nursing home facilities about their views and experiencing caring for older gays and lesbians.
“Staff in the study found it challenging to deal with homophobic attitudes and behaviour from other aged care residents, but said high levels of cognitive impairment among some residents was a mitigating factor.”
“Aged care staff said knowing family members, friends and colleagues who identified as lesbian or gay helped in their ability to empathise with those residents.” The article is available at http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10820524
This week’sBoston Globe article, “Learning how to care for LGBT seniors: Growing numbers face challenges different from their straight peers,” features Joy Griffin, 78, a retired teacher.
She makes the astute observation that older lesbians, “went through so much more than I did. I was right on the edge where progress was made.” She later explains that as a result, she feels safer being open about her lesbianism than many women older that she is.
The article also notes that in early November, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick issued a directive encouraging (but not requiring) local aging agencies to “identify and assess the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trangender population.” The article also mentions pending bill H1099, that would make LGBT cultural competency training mandatory for elder-care providers. The article is currently available at http://bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/2012/12/10/caring-for-lgbt-seniors/a2Pa67reOE4a3tIJ1c4rgL/story.html
Reuters has published an checklist for LGBT Americans planning retirement which includes a couple juicy statistics.
The article, available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/21/us-column-miller-lgbtretirement-idUSBRE85K12N20120621, urges LGBT adults to:
- Check your 401(k) beneficiaries, as starting in 2010, you’re allowed to list non-spouse beneficiaries;
- Check your pension survivor benefits; 73% of corporations now offer a survivor option for domestic partners;
- Check your retiree health insurance; if you’re one of the lucky ones whose corporation will pick up your post-retirement health insurance bill, there’s a 44% chance they will extend that coverage to your domestic partner;
- Think about estate taxes; starting in 2013, if your same-sex spouse will inherit more than $1 million from you (or vice versa), the federal estate tax will take 55% of it. Alternatives include a life insurance policy and annual tax-free gifts up to $13,000; and
- Consider lobbying your state to have it implement spousal impoverishment rules that will protect the spouses/partners of LGBT people whose nursing home bills are paid by Medicaid. (See previous posting for a webinar on this legislative issue.)