Watermark Retirement Communities said it is the first nationwide senior living company to pursue the top-level SAGE Platinum credentials for all 58 of its communities.

Advocacy organization SAGE provides educational materials and services that cover a wide range of LGBT elder issues, including abuse and neglect, healthcare, caregiving, Social Security and housing. 

To gain Platinum credentials, sites must train 80% of their staff using SAGE resources, including a four-hour intensive session for top management and a one-hour online training for front-line employees.

More than 50% of Watermark’s national workforce has received the SAGECare training, and Watermark said its communities strive to train 100% of their staff.

“SAGE training has increased awareness for all of us about the unique challenges that LGBT seniors face,” said Cheryl Martin, executive director at two of Watermark’s communities. “We have learned techniques to balance openness with respect for privacy as well as more inclusive language. We can now go beyond being a warm, welcoming environment to communities with deeper cultural understanding of the perspectives of LGBT individuals, their partners, families and friends.”

In addition to providing a more inclusive community for residents, the SAGE credentials also improve working conditions for LGBT staff members, Watermark said, and help attract employees who want to work without facing discrimination. Watermark has added HR policies that address issues for employees in same-sex marriages or who are transgender.

The company is “setting an incredible example of what it means to truly invest in their staff and residents on LGBT competency,” said Hilary Meyer, SAGE chief enterprise and innovation officer, who heads the training program known as SAGECare.

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