4 posts categorized "Caregiving"

March 18, 2014

Honoring Our Social Workers

Today is World Social Work Day and it's theme “Promoting Social and Economic Equalities” resonates strongly with SAGE's mission and our staffers as LGBT older adults suffer from higher poverty rates due to a lifetime of discrimination and thinner support networks.

ThankYouBlogThe SAGE social work staff, who deal with clients daily, observe first-hand how economic inequality affects our community. The loss of an apartment, not being able to pay a heating bill, finding care providers who are accepting of their sexuality, emotional support, grief counseling, social security and Medicaid issues are just a few reasons why LGBT older adults come to SAGE.

Our social workers go above and beyond a normal 9 to 5 job -- traveling to homes across the five boroughs, working late hours, pushing city and state government paperwork through various channels to get their client the help they need, calling doctors and care providers in order for clients to receive medical attention, in addition to offering their cellphone number and personal emails with the sincere plea for people to contact them at any time, are just a few things our SAGE team does for our clients.

Read some of their stories! You can learn how Damien helped James cope with his partner's death and Hurrican Sandy or how Larry was able to find a nursing home for Stan, despite a tight financial situation.

For more information on SAGE's social services, please visit our page on the SAGE website.

November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks a Little Early

Coming up on Thanksgiving, we wanted to share a story from one of our fantastic Case Managers, Larry Gile.  Larry currently has about forty-five clients that he works with on a regular basis and we share one of his stories below. We also wanted to share with you a note we got from Nancy on our website. We are thankful for our staff, board, clients, LGBT older adults and all who look to SAGE for help. Happy Thanksgiving!

Larry_gile
SAGE Case Manager, Larry Gile

We try to have all of our clients have a happy results--of course, that isn't always the case. However, the story I have to tell has a good ending, one that I think is perfect for the holiday season. Our clients' names have been changed for their confidentiality.

Stan is an 87-year old native of Maryland who has led a life of entertainment. He was a singer, musician, the author of numerous children's books and a worked on an Oscar-award winning film (in an age of IMDB, we'll keep the film name to ourselves). His caregiver and partner, Irwin, is originally from Alabama and worked in book publishing. Irwin is 75-years old.

About five years ago, Stan began showing symptoms of cognitive impairment, accompanied by increasing frailty and became a regular client of SAGE. We worked with both Stan and Irwin to arrange for God's Love We Deliver and home health aides in order to help them both. Recently, Stan experienced a series of falls in his home which made it clear to both to him and his partner that a long-term nursing home placement would be the safest and most logical next step in his life.

Nursing home placement can be difficult--especially when the financial situation is tight. SAGE's Case Manager, Larry Gile, helped Stan prepare and submit applications for five nursing homes as well as collecting the extensive personal and financial records needed to apply for nursing home Medicaid. Unfortunately, Larry didn't hear anything favorable from the homes for Stan. Deciding a visit was in order, Larry went to Stan's top choice in person to see if there was anything he could do to facilitate Stan's admission.

Larry introduced himself to the nursing home's brand new Director of Admitting and told him Stan's story and circumstances. The Director took an interest in Stan's case after hearing about his hardships in person and several days later, SAGE received notice that a bed was available for Stan!

Stan moved in a week later and was comfortable in his new situation. Miraculously, two weeks later, he was moved into a private room! This allows him more privacy and a chance to make the room his actual home. He is now flourishing in his new home and getting the care he needs. His partner Irwin is able to better take care of himself as the needs of his partner are being met. Larry is still in contact with the couple and reports that both are doing great!

A Note From Nancy

3791122SAGE received this email from our website feedback form and wanted to share this with our community. We are proud to be serving people like Nancy, who may not have access to the local services we provide in New York and those our affiliates provide around the country.

I am very grateful for this site because, living in a senior community made up of a majority of very conservative residents, it is one place I can visit to feel connected to my "larger community" and LGBT activities. I made clear to the administration here, before moving in nearly 3 years ago, that I am Lesbian. I was assured that I was fully accepted. I neither flaunt or hide my identity but have not found but one, straight, resident to whom I can confide. It gets lonely sometimes. Fortunately, my Episcopal church is is very open and accepting...my home away from home! Thank you for all the stories and features on this site which so enrich my and the lives of many others!

July 10, 2013

LGBT Senior Living: Challenges and Change in Nursing Home Settings

Written by Anila S. Venkat, this post was originally featured on the ElderBranch blog. ElderBranch provides unbiased information on senior care providers. 

BlogpostlivingfacilitiesAs described in ElderBranch’s initial piece on LGBT senior living, elder care facilities and other health care settings are often unwelcoming towards LGBT older adults or insensitive to their needs and circumstances.

As a result, LGBT elders generally tend to delay seeking health care for fear of discrimination and mistreatment. At the same time, they are less likely to rely on family members for caregiving for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, together, this may lead to LGBT older adults needing institutional care more frequently, or sooner in their lifetimes, as they may find that their health deteriorates more rapidly.

ElderBranch interviewed Hilary Meyer and Aaron Tax of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) to explore this issue and discuss SAGE advocacy efforts aimed at encouraging system-wide change.

Hostile Health Care Environments

In its report, LGBT Older Adults and Inhospitable Health Care Environments, SAGE details how health care settings are often challenging environments for LGBT elders. These seniors may face outright discrimination, or it may be that the staff in these settings is not trained to deal with this population of elders.

Though some health care environments are starting to change, the scars of previous negative experiences leave many seniors reluctant to pursue care unless absolutely necessary. In fact, the SAGE report quotes a 2006 study that found that less than half of lesbian and gay Baby Boomers were strongly confident that health care professionals would treat them with dignity and respect.

However, in delaying the pursuit of health care, LGBT older adults often find themselves in a position where their health deteriorates more suddenly and sooner than expected, and then they end up requiring institutional care – such as nursing home care.

Challenges in Nursing Home Settings

In nursing home settings, LGBT seniors often face discrimination not only from staff members, but also from other residents and residents’ family members. Hostility from a variety of angles can lead to LGBT elders keeping to themselves and limiting interaction with others.

Staff members have been known to deny same-sex partner visitations, prevent same-sex couples from sharing rooms and even refuse the participation of a same-sex partner in the medical decision-making of the resident.

When faced with harassment by other residents and their family members, nursing homes are often ill-equipped to confront these situations. Staff members sometimes react by isolating the LGBT individual – which can be devastating for that resident when he or she is already withdrawn and isolated socially.

Effecting Change – SAGE Advocacy

SAGE is very deeply engaged in advocacy efforts to support the needs of LGBT older adults. Though it is difficult to target long-term care settings more generally (assisted living, retirement communities), due to lack of one governing body or set of rules, facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding – such as nursing homes – are more easily addressed.

SAGE advocates on a number of key issues pertaining to care in nursing home settings, which begin to address some of the challenges described above that arise when LGBT seniors access nursing home care.

Cultural Competency Training

It is critical that nursing home staff appreciate the specific needs of LGBT older adults, including recognizing diverse family structures and providing medically appropriate care for transgender people.

In this regard, Aaron Tax explains, “We and our LGBT-aging allies are currently working with CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] on an LGBT cultural competency training for employees in long-term care facilities, targeting nursing facilities certified by CMS for Medicare and/or Medicaid and state-licensed residential care facilities. We also believe there are places where LGBT curricula can and should be added to staff trainings or integrated into existing trainings for care providers.”

To this end, SAGE offers comprehensive cultural competency trainings through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, for staff at nursing homes and other aging service providers. Interested parties can request a training through the SAGE website.

Updating Forms and Broad Definitions of Family

LGBT people and their families often have difficulty ensuring access for partners and children who do not have legally recognized relationships. For example, LGBT elders should be allowed to list their partners on forms where heterosexual couples list spouses, list their non-biological and non-adoptive children as well, and be permitted visitations from their partners and non-biological/non-adoptive children.

“We and our LGBT-aging allies have recommended that CMS and AoA [Administration on Aging] review and revise existing regulations, as appropriate, to incorporate inclusive definitions of family. We and our LGBT-aging allies have also urged that CMS and AoA take actions to encourage state agencies to review and revise their own regulations and forms as needed,” details Aaron.

The LGBT movement’s efforts in these arenas are evidently paying off. On June 28, 2013, CMS issued amemorandum to State Survey Agency Directors, reiterating resident rights surrounding access and visitation.

The memo states that long-term care facilities must ensure that all visitors be given full and equal visitation privileges. Most significantly, the memo states that residents must be notified of their rights to have visitors on a 24-hour basis, who could include, but are not limited to, spouses (including same-sex spouses), domestic partners (including same-sex domestic partners), other family members, or friends.

While many challenges remain ahead – for example, LGBT older adults need to be able to feel comfortable reporting violations to their rights – these changes represent significant steps in the right direction.


May 17, 2013

National Nursing Home Week: Caring for LGBT Elders

This is a guest post by Hilary Meyer, Director of the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.

Did you know? This week (May 12-May 18) is National Nursing Home Week! The theme for this year is team care. At SAGE, we believe it takes a team to deliver culturally competent services to LGBT elders, including those in nursing homes.

For this reason, SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging trains thousands of providers across the country on cultural awareness of the particular difficulties that LGBT people face. These certified trainers are then able to provide trainings in their community to policy makers, services providers (including to nursing home staff) and other leaders.

LGBT older adults came of age in a time when there was tremendous discrimination and hostility toward LGBT people.  As a result, many LGBT older adults have concerns about whether they will be treated with dignity and respect in congregate residential settings, such as nursing homes.

Continue reading "National Nursing Home Week: Caring for LGBT Elders" »

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