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I’m in the rainbow community but feel uncomfortable in care

Julie Watson, who runs Silver Rainbow workshops (LGBTQIA+ education for those working in aged care) answers this question for us.

If I was asked this question, I would want to see some things done immediately for this person. Their care home is their home and is the place where they may live their last days after a full and vibrant life. They should be celebrated rather than being made to feel uncomfortable.

Does that person have an advocate? It can be easier for someone else to speak on our behalf, as we often don’t feel worthy to speak up ourselves. This will be especially true for people who have been marginalised through their lives. People who have lived through their love being illegal or seen as a mental illness. People who had to fight to live their authentic truth or were operated on, without their consent. If they do not have an advocate, I would suggest contacting Outline (a confidential, free all-ages support line that provides rainbow specialist counselling and trans peer support) on 0800 688 5463 to see what help they could provide.

I would ask if there was anyone in the care home that they did trust. Diversional Therapists are my go-to people as they have a sense of the whole person and have been talking about LGBTQIA+ and Takatapui issues for many years now.

I would ask what the care home is doing to upskill their employees and management, and to keep their knowledge up to date. What do the application forms look like? Are there just two tick boxes for gender? How can can someone tell you their pronouns or the name they use (that may differ to their formal documentation)? Can they tell staff that they have a special collection of clothes they like to wear sometimes? Are they able to mention intimate details about their health (that they are not obliged to) and know that staff will treat that conversation with respect and confidentiality?

This is the last generation that will sit meekly by feeling uncomfortable; get it right for them and you will be in good shape for the huge numbers coming to your care home who have grown up in more enlightened times.

For more information or to enquire about Silver Rainbow LGBTQIA+ educational workshops, contact:

Julie Watson

Updated: 1 Dec 2022
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