In a new Boston Globe op-ed, Director of the LGBT Aging Project Lisa Krinsky writes that a new Massachusetts law designed to protect LGBT older adults will result in improvements in care for all seniors in the state. This past July, Governor Baker signed a first-in-the-nation law that will require elder service providers that receive either state funding or licensure to complete inclusivity training in how to care for LGBT seniors. The law addresses the reality that many LGBT seniors do not feel safe around or understood by the very people they depend on to care for them.
While created to ensure that LGBT older adults receive respectful care, this new law will help all patients of elder services by encouraging providers to learn more about each client’s specific family situation and unique needs.
“By not making assumptions about the people they are serving, caregivers learn about the next-door neighbor who should be notified in the event of an emergency,” explain Krinsky. “They hear about beloved pets who are considered family and thus understand why someone is refusing hospital admission. They collect valuable information about the people they are serving that make it easier to provide much more meaningful care.”
Krinsky stresses that while the new law is not a silver bullet for ending LGBT discrimination in senior services, it is a step in the right direction toward making LGBT older adults feel comfortable seeking the services they need to not just survive, but to thrive.
“At the very least, we should ensure that when providers say ‘we treat everyone the same,’ it means that they give all the people they serve the support needed to live safely and authentically,” she said.
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