LGBT seniors fear having to return to the closet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, March 4, 2016

SASKATOON - The plight of seniors living in retirement housing in Saskatoon will be the focus of the 19th annual Breaking the Silence conference, happening March 4-5 at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S).
Cheryl Loadman from the Saskatoon Council of Aging (SCOA) will present her ground-breaking study tonight at the conference, taking place at the Edwards School of Business. Sponsored by the SCOA, OUTSaskatoon and the Saskatoon Health Region, the report shows that LGBT older adults feel significant anxiety, apprehension and fear of discrimination or abuse from caregivers, staff, management and other residents in residential environments.
According to the report, managers of residences expressed support for providing the best care possible to their clients, though they may be unaware of the unique needs of LGBT older adults. As a result, none provide programming or services, and importantly, anti-discrimination policies specific to LGBT residents. There also seemed to be little or no training of staff on LGBT issues, and interview subjects were exceedingly concerned about their safety should they be "outed" in these settings. As it stands, residential retirement environments create heteronormative experiences for residents, that in turn leads LGBT seniors feeling unwelcome and forced back into the "closet" from which they had spent much their lives struggling to escape.
The report outlines that the first step is awareness and education, followed by simple actions that lead to a positive shift in the environment for LGBT residents through hiring, training and language policies, as well as standard of care policies that include reference to LGBT. Also identified are a number of considerations for the physical environment to make it more welcoming for LGBT seniors, such as having supportive signage, reaching out to members of the LGBT community, recruiting LGBT volunteers and staff to ensure a positive environment, and considering language in the intake process—as well as programming and communications—to ensure more inclusivity.
Full program and registration details:


For more information, contact:
Don Cochrane
Professor Emeritus
College of Education
University of Saskatchewan
306-652-2862 (home)
306-280-2257 (cell)
Share this story