Specialists at CIUSSS West-Central Montreal have developed a training tool to help health and social service staff better serve the needs of older LGBT adults.
The online material is designed to help build awareness about the realities of older adults who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. It was developed by our CIUSSS’s Centre for Research and Expertise in Social Gerontology—known by its French acronym, CREGÉS, along with several partners.*
Offered through a series of video modules (in French only), as well as a tip sheet (in French and English), the training is being offered exclusively to healthcare and social services staff in Quebec. The tip sheet was launched on May 17, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Attentiveness to the sexual diversity of clients can take many forms. For example, it can mean asking an older man if he has a significant person in his life, rather than whether he has a wife; or inquiring about an older woman’s support network, instead asking her the name of her husband or children. This is important when trying to determine who makes up a client’s social circle and is in a position to provide support.
“Asking questions in a certain way can force a person to disclose that they’re not heterosexual,” says Dr. Maude Lecompte, a Planning, Programming and Research Agent, and the lead on the project. They might be uncomfortable revealing their sexual orientation, and could withhold important information. “Out of fear, or because they don’t want to be judged, they might end up not receiving the services they deserve.”
The themes in the training material emerged out of consultations held across Quebec, including with staff in our CIUSSS. The results indicated that healthcare workers wanted to learn more about sexual diversity and gender issues, but didn’t know where to turn.
“We found that people were open-minded and wanted to know more,” Dr. Lecompte says. The training can help provide some answers. “If we don’t recognize the specificity of older LBGT adults, we won’t be able to give them the quality of care they deserve.”
*The training tool was developed by the CREGÉS in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Services, and with the Shared Continuing Education team of CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS.