A groundbreaking service recently launched in B.C. helps seniors and their family members find LGBTQ2+-inclusive housing and wellness options.
Route 65 is an online tool, developed by EngAge BC, that matches seniors with B.C.’s leading operators of independent living, assisted living, long-term and home health care services.
In B.C., it is estimated between three to 10 per cent of the population are lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, two-spirited, or transgender. Many older adults from that community feel that when they move into seniors’ housing or care, they must mask their sexuality or moderate their gender expression to “fit in.”
“Sexuality- and gender-identity-based stigma, especially in a care setting, can negatively impact the mental health of LGBTQ2+ seniors and exacerbate social isolation,” says EngAge BC CEO Daniel Fontaine. “We hope that through Route 65, seniors can find and live in an environment where they feel supported and safe to be themselves.”
Seniors’ living and wellness organizations on Route 65 that consider themselves to be LGBTQ2+-inclusive are marked with a pride icon. The icon signifies that, at a bare minimum, the organization commits to having:
- Foundational and on-going training and education on working with older adults who identify as LGBTQ2+. This should include education which is built into the organization’s on-boarding process;
- A system in place to review forms, policies and procedures and address any overt or covert discrimination or marginalization (e.g., binary gender options);
- Hiring and employment efforts to ensure that the organization’s staff reflect the diversity of the community being served;
- A visible statement of support for the LGBTQ2+ community. This can include a mandate, a client rights statement or anti-discrimination policy;
- An accessible mechanism for input from LGBTQ2+ clients, including programming, quality of care, etc;
- A system in place which allows the organization to proactively address incidents or experiences of discrimination or marginalization should they occur.
Users can contact the organization directly to learn more about their LGBTQ2+-inclusive policies and programming.
BC Care Providers Association and EngAge BC recently launched “Aging with Pride”–an initiative to strengthen and promote LGBTQ2+ inclusiveness and competency within the continuing care sector when it comes to supporting seniors in British Columbia.