A first-of-its-kind equality index is moving into Phase 2, providing senior living and other long-term care providers with a self-assessment tool to evaluate how well they are including and welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer residents.

The Long-term care Equality Index was developed by elder advocacy group SAGE and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation to assess the care being provided to LGBTQ older adults living in independent living, assisted living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities as well as skilled nursing and hospice facilities. The voluntary self-assessment will serve as a checklist of what facilities have and what they need, said Tari Hanneman, director of the HRC Foundation Health & Aging program. 

“With that data, we will spit it back out to them in a needs assessment form,” Hanneman told McKnight’s Senior Living. The self assessment is the second step in the process of building the LEI, a tool designed to encourage and help long-term care facilities adopt policies and best practices that provide culturally competent and responsive care to LGBTQ older adults.

After completing the self-assessment, facilities will have access to resources, best practices, examples and a learning module from HRC and SAGE to provide a “roadmap” to becoming more LGBTQ inclusive. Hanneman said that once they begin receiving some self-assessment, communities can identify any gaps, customize resources and provide technical assistance based on need.

According to HRC, as many as 4.7 million LGBTQ elders will be seeking care and services by 2030. A 2018 AARP national survey of LGBTQ older adults found that more than 60% of those surveyed were concerned about how they would be treated in a long-term care setting.

The self-assessment follows the Commitment to Caring Pledge launched last year. The pledge has 37 signatures from senior living and other long-term care operators, which can be tracked on an interactive map. The next step, Hanneman said, will be publishing a report with early self-assessment findings in May 2021 during Older Americans Month. The full LEI will launch in 2022.

“This will be an ongoing tool and resource available to any long-term care community that wants to participate and start at that place of taking a self-assessment,” Hanneman said. “We will look at the data we have and share a landscape assessment of what we’re seeing in the field, where there might be gaps, where we’re seeing exciting things, and go from there.”

Although there is no timeline for taking the self-assessment, Hanneman said HRC would like to see as many long-term care communities as possible complete it by the end of the year or early next year to be part of the landscape assessment.

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