Finding a 2SLGBTQ+ Friendly Care Home
Finding the perfect long-term care home or assisted living facility is not just about finding the one with the best programs, amenities, or prices. You’re looking for a new home - one where you’ll feel comfortable, accepted, and at peace. For older 2SLGBTQ+ adults, this can sometimes prove to be more complicated.
Many older 2SLGBTQ+ adults have been convinced throughout their lifetime that for their safety, they should hide their sexual orientation or gender identity. Those who have fought through this notion and were able to live as their authentic selves fear having to go back into the closet due to discrimination or abuse from caregivers, staff, management, and other residents.
Having a home where you can live authentically is incredibly important. However, it isn’t always easy to tell if a care home is 2SLGBTQ+ friendly from the outside looking in.
How do I know if a care home is 2SLGBTQ+ friendly?
Not all care homes will publicly state if they are 2SLGBTQ+ friendly. For those that do, their statement of inclusion could be an empty promise if there aren’t policies and practices to back it up.
Here are a few things to look for to make sure that your future home will be an inclusive and safe place where you can be your true self.
Non-discrimination policies and staff training
One of the most obvious ways a care home can show their commitment to inclusion is through non-discrimination policies for both staff and residents. The 2SLGBTQ+ community is incredibly diverse, so non-discrimination policies should cover sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, in addition to religion, race, disability, and other prohibited grounds for discrimination. Furthermore, staff should be trained on inclusive practices in order to fully commit to the non-discrimination policies.
While non-discrimination policies are important, it’s equally important that the care home enforces these policies. A policy without an adequate enforcement plan can’t protect the people it was created for. Ensure that there are plans in place to keep all staff (including management) and residents accountable.
Questions to ask: Do you have non-discrimination policies for staff and residents? If so, what do they cover and how are those policies enforced?
Inclusive employee benefits and policies
How a care home treats their employees can be indicative of how they treat their residents. If the care home has inclusive and 2SLGBTQ+ friendly benefits (equal parental leave, inclusive family formation benefits, equal treatment of 2SLGBTQ+ relationships, etc.) and policies, it is likely that their commitment will extend to their residents as well.
Question to ask: What kind of inclusive benefits do you provide your 2SLGBTQ+ employees?
Resident services and supports
Care homes will sometimes have community partners provide resident services and supports. It’s vital that the organizations providing these services are inclusive and have their own inclusion and non-discrimination policies. For example, if the care home hires third-party doctors or medical clinics they should also be committed to providing inclusive care. For other care homes, they may rely on volunteers to provide support for residents and should, ideally, be committed to being inclusive.
Questions to ask: Do your community partners and volunteers have the same values and commitment to 2SLGBTQ+ inclusivity? How do you ensure 2SLGBTQ+ inclusive care goes beyond your staff?
Community engagement is something that all prospective residents, 2SLGBTQ+ or not, should ideally look for in a care home. Isolation is a key contributing factor to depression in older adults so being able to remain involved in your community is important. Within the care home this could look like social groups, game nights, or entertainment events like how the Rainbow Wing in Toronto’s Wellesley Central Place hosts drag shows for their residents!
It is also important to have opportunities to connect to the community outside of the care home, with transportation provided to various community events such as concerts, performances, markets, social gatherings, or support groups. For example, Northwood in Nova Scotia and Wellesley Central Place in Toronto brought their residents to local Pride celebrations this year.
Question to ask: How do you support your 2SLGBTQ+ residents to stay connected to their community? If you’ve never had 2SLGBTQ+ residents, what are some ways you’d help them stay connected to their community?
Equal visitation for chosen family
While attitudes are changing, older 2SLGBTQ+ adults have a greater likelihood of aging without the family they were born into, and having a chosen family instead. Even people who weren’t rejected by their families may still have moved away from their family to larger cities like Toronto or Vancouver in order to find community. In fact, according to Stats Canada half of all same-gender couples in Canada were living in Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver and Ottawa–Gatineau at the time of the 2016 Census.
It’s crucial to ensure that whoever is important to you will be allowed to visit, especially during times where visitations may be limited, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Question to ask: Will my chosen family have the same visitation rights as my biological family?
While most care homes are accepting of non-married couples living together, it is always prudent to double check. Look for equality across the board for things like couple rates and the facility’s definitions of a married couple and unmarried couple. The definitions should include opposite gender and same gender couples. A care home that dismisses or erases your current (or possible future) relationships is not a place that respects you.
Questions to ask: Is the couples rate available to all couples, married and not? What is your definition of a married couple and unmarried couple?
Speak with local 2SLGBTQ+ organizations
Local 2SLGBTQ+ organizations may be able to provide insights on different facilities within the community, even if the facility isn’t listed as being 2SLGBTQ+ friendly. If they can’t provide the information you’re looking for, they may be able to point you in the direction of someone who can.
Many non-profit organizations, like Rainbow Resource Centre in Winnipeg and the Pride Centre of Edmonton in Alberta, have programs aimed at older adults. Not only are these programs helpful for making connections with new people, you may find people with personal experiences to share with you that’ll give you a better idea of which facilities will be a good fit.
Tip: To find your local 2SLGBTQ+ organization try searching online for your province/territory or community and keywords that apply to you. For example, “Nova Scotia + trans organizations”.
Below is a chart of some of the main 2SLGBTQ+ organizations in each province and territory.
Province or Territory
Resources and 2SLGBTQ+ care homes (by province)
Here are some resources to lead you in the right direction, and a few care homes that have proven their commitment to inclusivity through genuine action. If your province or territory isn’t listed, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any 2SLGBTQ+ friendly care homes, just that none are publicly listed.
Route 65 is a database of assisted living, home health care, independent living, and long-term care services in British Columbia. Note that not all facilities are registered with Route 65, but it is a great place to start!
Look for the rainbow icon on listings to see if a facility considers itself to be 2SLGBTQ+ inclusive. Any facility with the rainbow icon commits to having:
Foundational and on-going training education on working with older adults who identify as 2SLGBTQ+
A system in place to review forms, policies, and procedures and address any overt or covert discrimination or marginalization
Diverse and inclusive hiring and employment efforts
A visible statement of support for the 2SLGBTQ+ community
An accessible mechanism for input from 2SLGBTQ+ clients
A system in place which allows the organization to proactively address incidents or experiences of discrimination
Toronto is home to North America’s first long-term care home with a 2SLGBTQ+ wing. The Rainbow Wing in Wellesley Central Place is the first of two wings planned by Rekai Centres. Toronto is also home to the Fudger House, which is recognized for leading inclusive and affirming long-term care and services for 2SLGBTQ+ folks and True Davidson Acres, which partners with The 519 and Seniors Pride Network.
Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre is known to be inclusive and supportive of their 2SLGBTQ+ clients. A social worker spoke to the practices he and his colleagues at Edmonton General have adopted, including:
Identifying personal biases and prejudices
Adopting inclusive, and gender-neutral language
Intentional and continuous consent
Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable and being open to learning more about the 2SLGBTQ+ community
The Rainbow Resource Centre in Winnipeg is working on an affordable housing project for older 2SLGBTQ+ adults entering long-term care. There will be 21 units available with hope that residents will be able to move in by fall of 2024.
Northwood is the largest not-for-profit continuing care organisation in Atlantic Canada and has committed to be a welcoming space for the 2SLGBTQ+ community. They provide diversity training to staff and collaborate with Elderberries - a social group for LGBTQ+ people aged 50 and older.
Aging Gayfully created a charter of fair treatment for the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors. Any organisation that completes their Aging Gayfully training and has the charter formally adopted by their board of directors is able to join their list of signatories. Check the list for 2SLGBTQ+ friendly housing.
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Last updated August 2022