Equality California
Senior Care Bill Passes Assembly Health Committee

2008 Press Releases

June 25, 2008

CONTACT: Ali Bay, Communications Manager
PHONE: (916) 284-9187 EMAIL: ali@eqca.org

Senior Care Bill Passes Assembly Health Committee

Migden Measure, Sponsored by EQCA, Would Train Healthcare Professionals on the Needs of LGBT Seniors to Prevent Isolation, Discrimination in Senior Care Facilities

SACRAMENTO – Legislation that would help prevent bias in senior care facilities and nursing homes passed the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 1729, authored by Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, and sponsored by Equality California, would train licensed health professionals about the unique needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) seniors. The legislation would help create safe environments within senior care facilities that are free from bias for all older Californians. The Assembly Health Committee passed SB 1729 with a 12-5 vote.

“SB 1729 will help create safe and welcoming senior care facilities for older Californians who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,” said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. “In some cases, LGBT people living in nursing homes have been denied their most basic rights, including the simple choice to spend time with a loved one, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This measure will proactively create a culture of respect and understanding for LGBT seniors living in care facilities.”

SB 1729 would require licensed healthcare professionals who have constant interaction with seniors to participate in a training program that focuses on preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Many health professionals already receive cultural diversity training, but it does not include information and education about LGBT issues.

“This legislation will help foster a culture of respect within senior care facilities so every person who needs support feels welcome in that environment,” said Sen. Migden. “No senior should be denied the care they need or forced to face indignities because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Basic rights, such as the choice to live in the same nursing home with a partner and the right to hospital visitation are routinely denied to same-gender couples in older age, according to a 2000 study from the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The study also shows that same-gender partners lack essential protections, including Medicaid benefits and access to pensions, which typically protect the homes and retirement funds of surviving spouses who are married.

“Because of the lack of legal safety nets and lifelong experiences of marginalization in society, many LGBT seniors rely on nursing homes and other care facilities for the help they need as they age,” Kors said. “We want to ensure that once seniors enter these settings, they are treated fairly and can grow older with dignity and respect.”

Founded in 1998, Equality California celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2008, commemorating a decade of building a state of equality in California. EQCA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians. www.eqca.org

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