Increasing need for health-care providers to prepare to treat diverse seniors

Categories: Care.

It is important to recall, equitable, fair and inclusive care that is free of prejudice has not always been provided to the LGBT community. For example, a person around 70 years old who identifies as LGBT has lived through homosexuality being considered a criminal offence and a mental disorder. Questions of how the health-care system contains heterosexist and homophobic assumptions are beginning to be asked.  For example, there are cases when same-sex partners are not allowed to visit their seriously ill partner because they are not considered family. When it comes to patients living with AIDS, there continues to be stigma surrounding the disease, although it has lessened over the years, says Katie Connolly, community nurse at Casey’s House- a speciality HIV/AIDS hospital. Even within the health care system, misinformation continues to exist about HIV/AIDS- notably surrounding transmission of the disease. For example, there have been reports of workers afraid of handling any fluids from HIV/AIDS patients. To fight these types of stigmas, Casey House and the Rekai Centre have partnered to make educational videos to share accurate information about the disease and its treatment. B.J. Caldwell, an AIDS Committee of Guelph and Wellington County educator says that the key is not to seek to treat everyone “equally” as this often implies providing care based on the assumption everyone is heterosexual. Instead, Caldwell believes that people should be treated with “equity”, thereby treating people based on their true identity. In order to do so, Caldwell recommends using inclusive language such as “who is your family?” rather than asking if patients have a husband or wife. Overall, Caldwell says that LGBT issues are often not taken into account and it is important that the health care system begins to broaden its scope in approaching and communicating with the people it cares for.


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