Perceptions of LGBTIQ Community In Aged Care

Friday, March 25, 2016

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As the glitter settles on Sydney’s 2016 Mardi Gras celebration, it’s incredible to see just how much has changed in the parade’s 38 year history.

This year for the first time Malcolm Turnbull became the first Prime Minister to attend the event, whilst Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten went a step further – becoming the first major party leader to actually ride inside a parade float.

Indeed, much positive change has occurred, but not all members of the community are able to keep up.

Working in aged care uncovers all kinds of differences in attitudes and perceptions from people raised in different times. This can provide a fascinating experience for carers; though it can sometimes be challenging too.

Regarding LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning) people and issues, older residents may have far less progressive opinions than what we’re used to today. This can stem from a strict religious upbringing as well as the influence of opinions from family and friends of the same era. More often than not, people from older generations may have never met an openly homosexual person in their entire lives, though they probably knew many who never revealed themselves.

So how do you handle differing opinions professionally?

  • Be Understanding – In the span of your career there may be many cases where the comments and feelings of people you care for don’t match your own (or those of the general community). It’s important to be as understanding as possible. Think about the type of upbringing and influences people who are now in their 70s, 80s and 90s had? Chances are they were raised far differently, with different values.
  • Don’t Take Comments Personally – This is a handy trick to master. Practising to be ‘responsive’ rather than ‘reactive’ is a good place to start, as well as remembering that we can’t control what other people think. If a comment bothers you, it may help to talk it out with a colleague rather than dwelling on it yourself.
  • Educate – While you can’t control what other people think (see above) and nor should you try, you can definitely provide a little more information. Much discrimination comes from a fear of the unknown and a lack of understanding. By helping people to understand issues they have little knowledge of, you may make a positive difference to their view.

 

 

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