Human rights approach urged for aged care
Following on the back of the Federal Government’s recent announcements recognising LGBTI older people as a formal special needs group in aged care and the development of a national strategic plan to accommodate those needs, calls have been made to ensure a “human rights approach” is taken when implementing changes to the sector.
The Human Rights Commission this week released a position paper, Respect and choice: A human rights approach for ageing and health, which asserts respect and choice is integral when it comes to aged care.
Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan, said changes to the Aged Care Act to include LGBTI people as a special needs group were warranted and would result in an improvement to the current provision of care.
“Put simply, we are talking about ensuring that older people have choices in care, are provided with information about what is happening to them and have their privacy protected,” Commissioner Ryan said.
“Whether care is being provided at home or in residential facilities, providers need training that creates respect for the religious choices, sexual orientation and cultural backgrounds of the older people in their care.”
According to the paper, there will be an estimated 1.8 million Australians aged 85 or over by 2050 compared to only 0.4 million in 2010. The proportion of people aged 65 years and over is also expected to increase from 13 per cent of the population to about 25 per cent by 2056.
Separate figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Kinsey Institute show the number of older LGBTI Australians – who account for up to eight per cent of older adults aged 65 years and over – is expected to rise, in line with national trends, to approximately 500,000 people by the year 2051.
The Human Rights Commission’s paper anticipates there will be a large increase in the numbers of older ‘out’ LGBTI people in coming decades, with the onus now on aged care providers to implement proper training of staff to combat stigmatisation and discrimination.
“Sexual orientation, sex and/or gender identity have important implications for the provision of aged care services as many LGBTI people have experienced unlawful discrimination over the course of their lives,” the paper reads.
“It is thus imperative to ensure that this discrimination does not continue into the provision of aged care services.”
A copy of the positional paper can be accessed from www.humanrights.gov.au/age/ageing/