LGBT Aging Policy Task Force Update: A Call to Action

agingladyDr. Marcy Adelman

The LGBT Aging Policy Task Force final report is a call to action with feasible and well-studied recommendations to improve the lives of LGBT older adults and seniors. Over the last decade, Openhouse has made much progress in serving LGBT seniors and, with City assistance, developing low-income senior housing at 55 Laguna, but there is still much work to be done. Presently, there are 20,000 LGBT seniors in San Francisco, and that number is expected to double over the next two decades. The City needs to grow and expand the network of LGBT senior services, resources and LGBT welcoming senior housing to meet the urgent needs of  LGBT seniors, and for future generations to come.

On April 17, 2014, the Board of Supervisors Neighborhood and Safety Committee formally accepted the final report of the LGBT Aging Policy Task Force. In late May of this year, Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Campos will begin introducing legislation from the report.  The report, “LGBT Aging at the Golden Gate: San Francisco Policy Issues and Recommendations,” can be downloaded sf-hrc.org/sites/sf-hrc.org/files/LGBTAPTF_FinalReport_FINALWMAFINAL.pdf

The LGBT Aging Policy Task Force was created in 2012. Its last, and final, meeting was in March 2014. The task force was charged with studying issues affecting LGBT seniors and to make policy and program recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. Fifteen diverse community members, appointed by the Board of Supervisor’s Rules Committee, studied the issues; analyzed the limited existing city data on LGBT seniors; commissioned and administrated research projects, including a groundbreaking survey of San Francisco’s LGBT older adults; held public hearings; conducted interviews with community groups and city officials; and reviewed national best practices. The City provided administrative support and assistance from several key city departments.

The task force report identifies problem areas in need of urgent and immediate action, and provides recommendations for new policy and programs. From increased LGBT cultural competency training to creating more secure and affordable senior housing, the report is a road map for ensuring that LGBT seniors will have access to needed care and welcoming services.

Below is the list of task force recommendations:

* Improve inclusivity and safety for LGBT elders in mainstream senior services by expanding existing LGBT cultural competency training

* Improve LGBT community’s awareness of Alzheimer’s/dementia issues by creating an educational and awareness campaign

* Develop Alzheimer’s dementia resource tools, and expand LGBT targeted dementia caregiving support groups

* Facilitate access to services and programs by creating a single place for referral and assistance to available social service programs and health services

* Develop and implement an LGBT senior case management program

* Develop and implement new mental health peer counseling services

* Develop LGBT targeted financial literacy services

* Increase housing security and affordability by improving eviction prevention protections and increasing restrictions on evictions

* Create more community resources to assist access to, and availability of, affordable housing

* Improve conditions in apartments and SROs

* Make city shelters more welcoming to LGBT seniors by providing LGBT targeted shelter services and cultural competency training at existing shelters

* Promote LGBT life planning legal clinics and develop life planning resources and tools to aid LGBT seniors

* Improve legal protections and resources for LGBT seniors in long-term care facilities by passing a city ordinance to ensure appropriate care and treatment in long-term care facilities and require such facilities to have a dedicated LGBT liaison on their staffs

• Improve understanding of service needs of LGBT older adults and seniors by City collection of data on gender identity and sexual orientation whenever voluntary demographic data is collected

Most of us will want to stay in our homes and in our communities for as long as possible and to enjoy a quality of life that allows us to live healthy, vital lives. When we move to senior housing and senior facilities, such as assisted or dementia care living, our lives and our histories must be respected and honored. The task force recommendations will expand the existing network of programs and services to make all that possible.

We are grateful to Supervisors Scott Wiener, David Campos and former Supervisor Chistina Olague for creating the task force and urge the Board of Supervisors to implement all task force recommendations.

Dr. Marcy Adelman, a clinical psychologist in private practice, is co-founder of the non-profit organization Openhouse and a member of the San Francisco LGBT Aging Policy Task Force.

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Openhouse Spring Fling Awardees. Photos by Rink