Workers at assisted living communities and other state-funded or licensed providers of services to older adults in Massachusetts will be required to undergo training on the prevention and elimination of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity under legislation signed into law July 26 by Gov. Charlie Baker.
The training, which was mandated under an amendment to the general laws as part of the budget process, also covers improving access to services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults and caregivers. The new law in more extensive than one passed in 2017 in California, which requires training only for those working in long-term care, according to Fenway Health, a Boston-based LGBT healthcare, research and advocacy organization.
“It’s impossible to overstate what this is going to mean for LGBT older adults in Massachusetts,” Lisa Krinsky, LICSW, director of the LGBT Aging Project, a program of Fenway Health, said in a statement. “LGBT people are significantly more likely to age alone without a spouse or partner or children to support them. They are in greater need of formal caregivers such as home health workers and visiting nurses or assisted living communities. They have valid fears about experiencing discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, and some even feel the need to go back into the closet.”
The state Executive Office of Elder Affairs will develop the training program. All providers of aging services who contract with or receive funding from MassHealth’s office of long-term care or the EOEA, or whose services are certified by EOEA, will be required to complete the training program within 12 months of beginning employment.