Study supports better aged care for diverse groups

Southern Cross University to study diversity in aged care - Newsreel
Professor Mark Hughes from Southern Cross University. | Photo: Supplied by Southern Cross University.

Enhancing the aged care experience for gender and sexually diverse people is the goal of a new federally funded study.

The five-year, $999,533 study is being led by Southern Cross University Professor of Social Work Mark Hughes.

Professor Hughes said many aged care organisations were keen to improve their service delivery following reports of discrimination and poor service emerging from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

“This generation of LGBTQ+ older people has experienced prejudice and considerable hardship over many decades – not least during the HIV/AIDS crisis,” he said.

“They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity when accessing aged care services.

“The current residential aged care system does not sufficiently support LGBTQ+ people to stay connected to their friends and communities.”

The research is funded by the Australian government through the Medical Research Future Fund’s Models of Care for Sexuality and Gender Diverse People and People with Innate Variations of Sex Characteristics Grant.

Southern Cross University will collaborate with four other major Australian universities, residential aged care providers, peak aged care and LGBTQ+ organisations, and the LGBTQ+ community.

Among the factors to be assessed are the following:

  • Impacts of casualisation of the aged care workforce.
  • The high number of aged care staff who are migrants from non-English-speaking backgrounds.
  • Faith-based organisations operating a large proportion of residential aged care facilities.

“Working collaboratively with faith-based service providers will be key to the success of this research,” Professor Hughes said.

“This is how we’ll build sector support and knowledge into the inclusive aged care model, and the guidelines and resources for all organisations to use in the future.

“It’s a much-needed project that will create impactful change for our increasingly ageing and diverse population, and I’m honoured to be part of it.”

The team will engage LGBTQ+ people and other stakeholders to co-design both a model for inclusive care within residential aged care facilities, and guidelines and resources to support service providers in putting that model into practice.

This will then be trialled in up to 19 residential aged care facilities within Queensland and Western Australia. The findings from the trial will be evaluated to further refine the model and distribute nationally.

Learn more about the project and the project partners: Rainbow inclusive aged care project


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