New Program Provides Resources for LGBT Caregivers and Older Adults to Combat Isolation and Poor Access to Support Services
BALTIMORE (September 8, 2015) - Looking to improve care for older LGBT individuals who often live alone, Chase Brexton Health Care has launched SAGECAP Baltimore, an initiative that will provide resources, education and support for informal, unpaid LGBT caregivers in the community.
Through a partnership with SAGE - Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders - the LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton will provide support groups for caregivers; one-on-one counseling to caregivers; referrals to financial, legal and medical assistance; and other information and training in a safe and welcoming environment. Services are available to unpaid caregivers who identify as LGBT themselves and/or care for someone who identifies as LGBT, helping them navigate their current situation and plan for future needs.
Providing long-term care can feel overwhelming, and can often be even more of a challenge for members of the LGBT community, who may be isolated, living without family and lacking good access to services. Despite recent progress, accessing services can be difficult and uncomfortable, and LGBT aging adults access services at a lower rate that the rest of the population. Education is key to finding these services and programs, and can help keep a loved one home where they want to reside.
"In Baltimore, our elders face many challenges including transportation, food access, medication management, ability to afford required home repairs and home modification services," said Arnold Eppel, Baltimore City's Director of the Division of Aging & CARE Services. "It is wonderful to know that those older adults who may face an additional discrimination or have worries about accessing care and services, have a new way to connect to the services they so vitally need."
According to SAGE, approximately 80 percent of long-term care in the United States is provided by family members. However, LGBT older adults are often estranged from their families and lack this crucial support network. Further, LGBT older adults are twice as likely to live alone, three times more likely to be childless and more likely to care for a loved one.
"The reality is that many more LGBT older adults are cut off from family and depend heavily on support from friends and other caregivers," said Nate Sweeney, executive director of Chase Brexton's LGBT Health Resource Center. "Through SAGECAP we can connect LGBT caregivers and elders to culturally competent and welcoming service providers. We're encouraged by the tremendous response from Baltimore area providers who want to help improve critical services for the often isolated and marginalized LGBT population."
As part of SAGECAP Baltimore, Chase Brexton vets services providers before partnering with or recommending them, ensuring they can help LGBT individuals comfortably access services. Chase Brexton staff are also offering LGBT cultural sensitivity training to community organizations that provide services to older adults.
SAGECAP Baltimore builds upon an innovative program originally launched in New York City in 2009 and is supported by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. Locally, the initiative is part of Weinberg's "Making Maryland the Best Place to Grow Old" initiative.
SAGECAP Baltimore also builds on Chase Brexton's strong history. Since its founding in 1978 as a volunteer-run, gay health clinic, Chase Brexton has supported the LGBT community even as it has grown and expanded into a major primary health care provider.
Service providers interested in participating may attend an informative launch meeting on September 11 at 3 p.m. To RSVP or for more information about SAGECAP Baltimore, contact Bernadette McCarter at 410-837-2050 x4015 or via email at LGBT@chasebrexton.org.