Hello everyone this is Marissa. For my stretch experience I am interested in the treatment of LGBTQ+ older adults in residential care. I have found there are lots of ways to approach this topic, through people, policy and fundamentally through education.
When I first started this project, I was focused on the issues for LGBTQ+ seniors in health care. Major issues they face are the fear of re-closetting, to avoid mistreatment or abuse from staff or other residents in health care. By hiding one’s identity the older resident lacks medical resources, and is isolated in a way that may harm both their mental and physical health. My goal is to ensure safe spaces and a culture of openness in long term care homes. To achieve this, I am working on education of the long term care home’s staff. What I am doing is not a fix-all solution, but one of the first steps in a positive direction.
At first, in April I thought that the majority of my project would be advocacy, by pestering care homes or government officials (for policies). Surprisingly though, I was put in contact with my mentor, Agnes H. who knew a someone, who knew someone, and now I am working on a module for the long term care facility in Camrose, The Bethany Group. As things work out, the education department at The Bethany Group is putting together a module on Sexuality, that will now have a section, written by me, on the specific issues facing LGBT older adults. This module will be available as a resource to any long term care home.
To begin the education I suggested a class to start off, as a human face and conversation can go a long way. This too, surprisingly worked out well. I could not find a class here in Alberta but have asked OUTSaskatoon, a Pride group in Saskatoon to give their presentation, “Inclusion, Healthcare and the LGBTQ+ Community.” The poster is below:
Many people have supported me in this goal, my mentor Agnes, other Camrose community members: Odell and Margaret, as well as Education at the Bethany Group, Camrose Pride Group and OUTSaskatoon. Community is a central focus for me as a leader, which is why I decided to work in Camrose. Many LGBTQ+ individuals seek out community in larger cities or lager centres, but being in a rural place and aging in place is also important to many people. Therefore, working in Camrose on this project is very dear to me personally.
This Stretch experience as a project in leadership has been very rooted in support and community which is wonderful and pushes me to do better as I continue to research for the module.