Shropshire’s leading not-for-profit care home provider has formally committed to a county-wide campaign to highlight the needs of older LGBTQ+ people.
Coverage Care Services now has dedicated LGBT+ champions in each of its 12 care homes, who wear rainbow flag badges to identify them.
Work is under way to support LGBTQ History Week and Pride Week activities and each home is developing its own mini-projects.
The company has signed the SAND Covenant, which includes five key pledges:
- Commit to providing the best possible quality services for older and old LGBT+ people
- Commit to learning what life can be – and has been – like for different LGBT+ people.
- Commit to vocally and visually supporting groups working with and for older and old LGBT+ people
- Commit to creating meaningful opportunities for LGBT+ people and groups to ‘influence’ what you do
- Commit to assess and evidence change, including work carried out to engage LGBT+ people (within the group/organisation and outside it)
SAND is an organisation which works across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin to increase LGBT+ inclusion, challenge discrimination, and promote accessibility and equality of opportunity for older LGBT+ people.
Debbie Price, chief executive of Coverage Care Services, said: “It is important that we do whatever we can to make our homes inclusive, welcoming and safe spaces for all residents, so I’m delighted to sign up to the SAND covenant. We will be working closely with SAND to identify where action needs to be taken and to develop a plan to make sure we are doing our best for all our residents.
“The age profile of Shropshire is significantly older than much of the rest of the country and the proportion of the county population over the age of 65 is predicted to grow even further.
“Up to eight per cent of the population is estimated to identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or non-binary, so there are undoubtedly people in our homes who are part of this community who need us to be their ally.
“One of our residents has recently “come out” whilst in the care home and the manager has supported the individual to attend SAND café events and to take part in the Wave project, all of which have been greatly appreciated and enjoyed.
“We would like to set up café events in some of our homes to encourage community participation and to enable some very frail people to have meaningful engagement with people who understand and relate to them.
“As ever, we would love for volunteers to help us support our residents and share their ideas and experiences to contribute to keeping this important work organic and ever-growing in reach and impact.”
SAND was formed in response to the American film Gen Silent, which highlighted the fears and experiences of older LGBT+ people when accessing care services.
Director Sal Hampson said: “It is always amazes us that the possibility that older people might not be heterosexual just doesn’t occur to people. It’s vital that everyone providing care is aware of and sensitive to the needs of LGBT+ people, so I am delighted that Coverage Care has committed to the five pledges included in our covenant.
“We will be working closely with the managers and staff teams to help them create an environment which is genuinely inclusive.”
SAND is encouraging LGBTQ+ people over the age of 50 who live and work in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin to join in with the Wave Project, aimed at increasing visibility by highlighting real older people in the county.