Improving the health and wellbeing of older LGBTIQ people 

18 October 2021

Article from October 2021 edition of INPractice

Helping celebrate and connect older LGBTI people

COTA SA (Council on the Ageing SA)’s Rainbow Hub works to ensure the needs of South Australia’s estimated 70,000+ Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people aged 50+ are met: through a program for LGBTI elders, by LGBTI elders. 

We celebrate the lives and contributions of older LGBTI people who have lived through times when they experienced discrimination, stigma, criminalisation, fear, rejection from family and friends, sacking from work places and social isolation. 

The effects of these experiences stemming from stigma and discrimination are often revisited with age and can lead to greater social isolation.

We are seeking the support of health professionals to promote our programs and refer people who may benefit from more support. Many older LGBTI people are more likely to
   • be single and childless, relying on family of choice and peers for support
   • have experienced poverty, unemployment, insecure work
   • hide their sexuality or gender with providers when accessing services (more than 2/3)
   • have a fear of institutions / health care facilities, due to past treatment experiences
   • feel invisible
   • experience a range of significant mental health issues

During COVID‐19 we have continued to foster opportunities for people to stay connected with their communities through social programs and regular communication. 

This helps address the impact of isolation and mental health issues many older LGBTI people face, particularly for those with few biological family connections. To this end, the Rainbow Hub facilitates finding a friend for older LGBTI people who want to expand their social networks with face to face or phone contact by matching them with volunteer visitors from the LGBTI community.

Trained volunteers support community members navigating ageing well, including My Aged Care through targeted information and hosting a monthly Rainbow Hub lunch at the Treasury in the city and other events.

As one recent lunch attendee said, “You just walk in here and you know you’re at home, you don’t have to explain yourself.”

Targeted training for Aged Care Facilities

Our Silver Rainbow Training and Consulting Team provides subsidised tailored aged care awareness training and organisational development services to aged care facilities in SA. 

This training is conducted by qualified trainers with lived LGBTI experience. This is in line with Australian Aged Care Quality Standards and the principles of diversity and inclusion. Training can be delivered as face to face workshops or in a hybrid model using a mix of technology and in‐house group discussion according to the needs of organisations.

We also host the SA Silver Rainbow Community of Practice for staff in aged care, for the regular exchange of ideas and innovation for improved practices, services and advocacy for LGBTI elders.

The Rainbow Hub also has a dedicated newsletter [available by post too], which keeps community members and allies informed of social activities, services, advocacy and support for LGBTI seniors provided by the Catalyst Foundation, Bfriend, SAMESH, ECH and others. We encourage service providers to share the newsletter with residents in aged care and other contact points.

Contact us for copies of our Rainbow Hub postcard; brochure and or poster about COTA’s visitor program; Silver Rainbow flyer.

E: [email protected]
F: facebook/rainbowhubsa

For any further information contact Jan Thompson, (ANMF SA Branch Councillor) who is a COTA Rainbow Hub volunteer on
[email protected]
Click here to read the October 2021 edition of INPractice