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LGBTQ Elders Fear Being Shoved in Closet in Nursing Care Hunt

Bloomberg Law: LGBT Elders Fear Being Shoved in Closet in Nursing Care Hunt (June 28, 2022)

As the generation of LGBTQ+ people forged by the AIDS epidemic and drastic cultural shifts of the 1980s and ‘90s enters its retirement years, demands that nursing homes take additional steps to ensure security and compassionate care increase. Over 60% of older LGBTQ+ adults surveyed expressed concerns about treatment in long-term care settings, such as independent or assisted living care facilities. Among their concerns are fears they could be refused or receive limited care, neglect, abuse, harassment, or be pressured to hide their identity.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and SAGE, which advocates for LGBTQ+ elders, urged nursing homes and long-term care communities to develop and include non-discrimination protections specific to older LGBTQ+ residents through the 2021 Long-Term Care Equality Index (LEI). Less than 30% of long-term care communities have policies in place to prevent discrimination against residents based on their orientation or identity, according to Tari Hanneman, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s health and aging program.

President Joe Biden boosted those efforts with a recent executive order, calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to develop guidance on preventing discrimination in long-term care facilities. There are regulations that nursing homes funded by Medicare must comply with, but Biden’s order is the first to explicitly include older LGBTQ+ people.

“It’s not to say that there aren’t significant rights in the regulations and that there aren’t protections because there are, but based on the president’s announcement, there will be guides that specifically speaks to those populations and that’s just a really positive step,” said Eric Carlson, directing attorney at Justice In Aging.

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