Juniper Communities Receives SAGECare Training to Better Serve LGBTQ+ Residents
BLOOMFIELD, NJ—Recent research indicates that nine out of 10 LGBTQ+ identifying adults fear discrimination in long-term care facilities because of their sexual orientation. To create a safe and welcoming environment, the management team of Juniper Communities took part in a training program by SAGECare, aimed at helping them better serve diverse populations. Juniper is based in Bloomfield, NJ, and operates 30 senior living communities in Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas.
The LGBTQ+ older adult population is expected to grow to seven million by 2030. While the majority of the elderly population relies on family members for caregiving, LGBTQ+ people are twice as likely to live alone and four times less likely to have children. This puts them at a higher risk of isolation and loneliness due to the lack of family support and limited access to services.
Juniper started its initial management training in September, during which time the team completed a 75-minute online self-study training followed by a 90-minute live webinar, designed to help them understand the cultures, needs and concerns of LGBTQ+ older adults. Juniper intends to implement these best practices in system-wide improvements across multiple departments, such as outreach and intake, programming, policy and procedures, marketing, facilities and staff and board recruitment.
The next phase will include all of its associates, who will take the “Creating Inclusive Communities for LGBTQ+ Older Adults” training through its learning management system. Program topics include definitions, historical timelines, best practices to support dignity, inclusive language, intake interview process and use of pronouns.
Since 1978, SAGE has been serving and advocating for LGBTQ+ older adults. SAGE is the lead organization running the National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging (NRC), a project primarily funded by the U.S. Administration for Community Living. The NRC is the country’s first project that offers support to LGBTQ+ older adults.
The mission of SAGECare, a division of SAGE, is to ensure that all senior citizens feel accepted in retirement communities, regardless of their race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. It partners with senior living agencies to offer resources that create a better culture of dignity and respect for all clients. Agencies that complete the training will receive a certification that shows they are welcoming, inclusive and prepared to work with LGBTQ+ communities.
“Our mission is to provide all people with the best care possible, and SAGECare is helping us serve LGBTQ+ and other diverse clients better,” said Lisa Hackenberg, staff development coordinator at Juniper. “As our staff and agency become more inclusive, we will be able to communicate with all residents and their families with even more compassion.”