Aged Care for Transgender and Intersex Australians Lags Behind
28 November 2017 at 4:11 pm
Aged care for transgender and intersex people is lagging behind and improvements in inclusive care for these groups is needed, according to a federal government LGBTI Aged Care Strategy Review.
Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt, last Thursday released the findings of LGBTI Aged Care Strategy Review which looked to report on the government’s progress in implementing the LGBTI strategy introduced in December 2012.
The review was undertaken by the Department of Health in consultation with the National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy Working Group.
It found that while stakeholders strongly supported the principles and goals of the LGBTI strategy, improving “the knowledge and confidence of aged care staff in working with transgender and intersex people, including their specific health-related issues, [is] necessary”.
“A number of stakeholders suggested that, while considerable gains had been made for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, transgender and intersex people have not had the same experience, and improvements in inclusive care for these groups (including their specific health care needs) are lagging,” the report said.
“Stakeholders agreed that the principles and goals of the LGBTI strategy remain relevant in addressing the ongoing challenges in ensuring that the aged care system meets the needs of LGBTI people… [And] were also keen to ensure the momentum gathered through the life of the LGBTI strategy is not lost.”
The minister agreed that the momentum built over the duration of the strategy needed to be maintained.
“The review indicates that the strategy initiated five years ago has had a positive effect but it is important to keep the momentum going and build on the success of this work,” Wyatt said.
“The Australian government wants all senior Australians to access the services they need and expect as they get older – and recognising diversity is a key factor in meeting that expectation.”
The review included findings of an online survey of 232 respondents, and revealed a “possible disconnect” between the experiences of individuals compared to organisational stakeholders.
“Respondents agreed that, to some extent, the LGBTI strategy had a positive impact on accessibility and inclusion in aged care. Twenty-five per cent of respondents agreed that the strategy had a positive impact, while 53 per cent reported a ‘somewhat’ positive impact,” the report said.
“However, respondents who were individuals or carers were less likely than organisations to agree that the LGBTI strategy had an impact on accessibility and inclusion in aged care, suggesting a possible disconnect between the experiences of the different stakeholder groups.
“Stakeholders commented that it is difficult to determine the extent to which improvements in awareness and provision of appropriate aged care to LGBTI people can be attributed to the LGBTI strategy, as opposed to simply reflecting a broader societal shift towards improved inclusiveness.”
The federal government has committed to providing more than $4 million to the National LGBTI Health Alliance over three years to provide LGBTI awareness training for aged care providers and workers.
This aims to help aged care providers to “be more LGBTI aware and sensitive”, after the report highlighted a need for more effective training.
It comes as the federal government looks to implement a new Aged Care Diversity Framework, which will focus on catering for the diverse characteristics and life experiences of the community.
“The Diversity Framework… should [be] practical in nature, and be supported by a strong communication and implementation focus. To support growth across the sector, it should provide actionable steps providers can take to improve the inclusiveness of their services without significant cost barriers,” the report said.
“[It] should continue to include strong consultation with LGBTI organisations, with efforts undertaken to ensure an appropriate mix of representation from relevant groups and sub-sectors, and to include ‘grassroots’ consumers as well as peak bodies.”
Wyatt thanked those involved in preparing the report, and said The Diversity Framework was expected to be released in December.
“I thank the LGBTI Aged Care Strategy Working Group and applaud the contribution made by providers, peak bodies and individuals to ensure this review was comprehensive and provides a way forward,” he said.
“The review has informed the development of the new Aged Care Diversity Framework, which I expect to release next month.”
The shadow minister for ageing and mental health, Julie Collins, said Labor welcomed the release of the report, but warned that the federal government must implement its recommendations.
“Labor remains deeply committed to the aims of the Diversity Framework and calls on the government to use the findings of this review to inform the development of the new framework,” Collins said.
“The review recognises the strong support for the principles and goals of the LGBTI strategy but more must be done to practically support diversity in aged care.
“The Turnbull government must properly respond to the growing pile of aged care reports, reviews and strategies that it has so far failed to act on.”