HHS Launches Online Tool to Train Long-Term Caregivers about LGBT Patients

By Penny Starr | July 7, 2014 | 4:04 PM EDT

FILE - In this July 11, 2013, file photo, James Obergefell, right, and John Arthur return from their wedding flight at Landmark Aviation at Cincinnati's Lunken Airport after they were married on the plane at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. (AP Photo/The Cincinnati Enquirer, Gary Landers)

(CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration has launched an online training “tool” to teach caregivers about “issues” facing older homosexual patients living in long-term care facilities.

“This training tool will play an important role in educating a wide audience of care providers about the needs of LGBT seniors,” said Hilary Meyer, director of the National Resource Center on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Aging. “It can help improve the quality of care given to this vulnerable population."

“Helping to create a more welcoming environment for our LGBT populations will benefit everybody,” Meyer added.

In announcing the new online resource, called  “Building Respect for LGBT Older Adults,” the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living (ACL) noted that approximately 1.5 million adults over age 65 identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, and it said that number could increase to 3 million by 2030.

“Estimates indicate that there are hundreds of thousands of older adults who are transgender,” ACL said.

The new tool is available on the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, which was created through a grant from HHS and bills itself as “the country's first and only technical assistance resource center aimed at improving the quality of services and supports offered to lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender older adults.”

According to a 2012 Gallup poll, 3.4 percent of people responding identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

The Centers for Disease Control, men who are gay, bisexual or other men having sex with men make up about two percent of the U.S. population.

“Unfortunately, research shows many older LGBT adults do not feel safe discussing their sexuality in LTC (long term care) facilities,” ACL said.

The announcement states that the "Building Respect for LGBT Older Adults" tool was a collaboration of the HHS Office of Public Affairs, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the National LGBT Resource Center “with input from aging and LGBT advocates.”