LGBTI aged care programs win national award
A Brisbane aged care worker has been recognised for improving the quality of LGBTI aged care.
Aged and Community Services Australia, the peak national body, awarded Annette Hogan the ‘2013 Employee Award’ for her work with the LGBTI community and her advocacy for last year’s National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy.
Hogan, who works as a client services manager for Care Connect, focuses on seniors who still live at home but are frail and need assistance.
“It could be help with shopping, help with showers, help around the house, support to access the social activities that matter to you,” Hogan told Queensland Pride. “We have services that are equivalent, roughly, to being in residential care.”
According to Hogan, reaching frail-aged LGBTI people can be difficult because they are often closeted.
“There are people who have not felt safe and never will feel safe, or have become used to living in a very private way,” she said.
“We have one client who came out as a female – had lived as a male all her life – and now in the last 12 months as a senior citizen has transitioned, and we were involved,” Hogan said. “Part of that was that person feeling safe in terms of relating to us, that she could be her real self.”
Hogan said elderly LGBTI people need to feel their homes are a safe space and should not have to “de-gay” their houses because they are fearful of their carer’s reaction,” she said.
“People shouldn’t have to feel in their own home that they have to make any changes whatsoever. They should be confident in introducing their partner or friendship circle.
“Sadly, people’s understanding of HIV is not always great and there are [carers] who would be worried about catching HIV if they shower someone. So we do have anecdotes of some pretty frightening events, [from] people who are at a point of time when they need help.”
Hogan said it was “wonderful” that the LGBTI community was becoming interested in its own aged care services, adding she had worked closely with Healthy Communities after that organisation identified a need for LGBTI aged care.
“It’s important to say much of [LGBTI aged care] is exactly the same as for others,” Hogan said. “We start from the human being, the individual. It’s just about having that awareness and understanding so that we are inclusive.
“It’s about respecting and understanding the partners and the family of choice of the people we are working with and understanding they are the first people we need to be involved with.”
To receive help from an aged care provider, either secular like Care Connect or with a religious background such as Anglicare, you must be assessed by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). A referral to ACAT can be made by anyone and the individual then decides which care provider to go to.
“We would really like people in the LGBTI community to think that this is a great place for them to come to because we’ve got an understanding of their needs,” Hogan said.
For more information about ACAT call 1800 200 422 or visit myagedcare.gov.au
IMAGE: Working for better quality aged care: Annette Hogan.