WASHINGTON - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, and SAGE, the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ older adults, announced the opening of the 2023 edition of its long-term care equality survey. The survey is completed by elder housing communities who wish to participate in the Long-Term Care Equality Index (LEI). The LEI is a first-of-its-kind national benchmarking tool that evaluates elder housing communities based on the equity and inclusion of their LGBTQ+ residents, including research data on how many elder housing communities currently have LGBTQ+-inclusive policies, and lays out how organizations can participate in the LEI and improve their policies.
The invisibility of LGBTQ+ elders, many of whom remain closeted or return to the closet when they enter long-term care, has perpetuated the false perception that there is not a pressing need to make policy or practice changes to ensure that care communities are welcoming and inclusive of LGBTQ+ elders. However, more than 5% of people who live in long-term care communities are LGBTQ+. And for LGBTQ+ BIPOC community members, there is compounded fear of discrimination and inadequate care based not only on sexual orientation and gender identity, but also racial bias.
Many elder housing communities that want to welcome LGBTQ+ residents may not know how to do so. The Long-Term Care Equality Index gives professionals, providers, older adults and care partners the tools for being LGBTQ+ inclusive, building on the decade-plus success of the HRC Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI). The LEI measures the following policy and practice areas as benchmarks of LGBTQ+ inclusion:
Foundational Policies & Practices;
Resident Services & Support;
Employee Benefits & Policies; and
Resident & Community Engagement
To date, following the release of the inaugural 2021 report, there were 109 “Commitment to Caring'' pledges completed, which is the first step in the LEI and indicates a communities’ intentions to adopt LGBTQ+ inclusive and culturally competent policies and practices. Additionally, there were 66 self-assessments completed for 252 diverse elder housing communities, with 32 states represented. The next LEI report will be released in May of 2023. Organizations can participate in the LEI by signing the “Commitment to Caring” pledge after which they will receive a customized LEI survey link.
For more information about the LEI, visit www.TheLEI.org.
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