ACT News

Special focus needed for LGBTI and HIV-positive in aged care: report

Education: ACT Minister for Ageing Mick Gentleman will release the findings of the study on Thursday.
Education: ACT Minister for Ageing Mick Gentleman will release the findings of the study on Thursday. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex aged care residents in the ACT face social isolation, concerns of disclosure of their sexual orientation and other unique needs, a new report has found. 

Minister for Ageing Mick Gentleman will release the findings of a study calling for better education for service providers, staff and residents of aged care facilities on Thursday.

The report, presented by the  ACT Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Bisexual, Intersex and Queer Ministerial Advisory Council, calls for better advocacy for LGBTIQ and HIV-positive people as the baby-boomer generation seeks aged care in the community. 

It recommends peer support networks and visitor schemes, better early intervention care for minority people as well as accessible and tailored mental health support services.

The report includings findings from a November 2013 public forum and a survey undertaken in 2014, funded by the Canberra Gay and Lesbian Tennis Club. It follows limited recognition of older LGBTI and HIV-positive members of the community.

A significant concern identified by participants was an ongoing fear of discrimination by aged care organisations, staff and residents. Some participants expressed concerns over a lack of control in the disclosure of their personal identity and health status, while others said they did not know who would care for them in old age or ill-health.


More than a quarter of participants said they were very concerned that their sexual orientation might limit the type and quality of aged care services available to them, including because many facilities are run by religious organisations.

About 75 per cent of HIV-positive participants said they shared the concern.

The report found aged care providers needed specific knowledge of HIV and Aids in order to provide appropriate care to patients, who often require care earlier than some of their peers due to associated health problems. 

The majority of participants said the affordability of aged care services was a significant concern for them, with 33 per cent reporting they could afford to pay for aged care.

More than 56 per cent said they could afford to make a contribution to their care and 15.1 per cent said they had no capacity to pay for anything.

"If I ever were to spend time in an aged facility, I would like to be treated as an individual and not as an 'old person' or someone's perception of a 'gay old person'," one participant said.

"Acknowledge we are here; understand that we may be lacking in both financial, health and mental health resources due to the impact of homophobic attitudes and abuse over many years," another said. "Understand that we are a diverse group and make no assumptions."

The report calls for further research to be conducted, with the ability to access views and information from all groups in the LGBTIQ community, with a focus on specific questions for intersex people on their experiences, education, and employment. 

One outcome could be the creation of an accreditation process for ACT aged care services to be designated as LGBTIQ-sensitive. A similar accreditation standard, the Rainbow Tick, operates in Victoria, and some gay and lesbian health organisations have created national standards and programs to improve service delivery. 

Dementia and emotional support were also identified by the report, which was prepared with support from the AIDS Action Council and A Gender Agenda Canberra.