2SLGBTQI+ inclusion has become a hot topic among LTC homes, care providers and seniors. Last spring, we shared that the City of Toronto refreshed an older version and launched the Leading & Learning with Pride Tool Kit. We wanted to catch up with Joseph Friedman Burley, staff lead and one of the co-creators of the Tool Kit to learn more about what’s happened since launch.
SSLTC has achieved great success over the first year of implementing the Tool Kit. Joseph, a Management Consultant, Seniors Services and Long-Term Care (SSLTC), described that he and other SSLTC team members had the “experience of a lifetime creating this Tool Kit,” connecting and working with older members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community. The Tool Kit has been rolled out in the ten City of Toronto directly-operated LTC homes. Over 40 presentations on the Tool Kit have been delivered, reaching 1000+ providers in LTC homes and seniors services across the province. SSLTC also worked with The 519 and the Senior Pride Network, two local 2SLGBTQI+ organizations to develop, deliver, and evaluate interactive workshops on the Tool Kit for staff. These workshops engaged SSLTC staff in thoughtful dialogue and exercises to enhance their capacity to provide more inclusive care to Rainbow Seniors in LTC.
Each of the City of Toronto’s ten long-term care homes has appointed a Pride Lead on staff to champion 2SLGBTQI+ inclusion. Many of these Pride Leads have helped create initiatives to advance 2SLGBTQI+ inclusion, such as Pride events and a Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA). True Davidson Acres (TDA) is one City of Toronto LTC homes that has taken strides to implement recommendations from the Tool Kit. They have many 2SLGBTQI+ identifying residents, coordinate pride celebrations and community outings to The 519 , and TDA’s GSA connects with the GSA at the local middle school for intergenerational initiatives, including a Pen Pal program.
Many lessons were learned through the Tool Kit refresh. Burley highlighted the value of bringing diverse people and perspectives to the table, noting that “No one knows everything, but together we know a lot”. The Tool Kit helped unite LTC providers, residents and community stakeholders to share knowledge on this critical topic. Burley explained how this experience taught him how to work with Rainbow Seniors to effect change and transform care and services. Since every individual in the 2SLGBTQI+ community is different and has unique needs, providers must listen to and support them based on their needs. It is vital to listen to multiple perspectives from the community as each individual has their own intersectional identity and lived experience in healthcare and LTC.
In addition to implementing the Tool Kit in the ten City of Toronto LTC homes, there has been outreach through various media platforms and presentations to provincial and community partners, including at the AdvantAge Ontario Convention in April, alongside leZlie lee kam (Tool Kit Working Group member), and Barbara Michalik (Executive Director, Academic, Community Partnerships and Programming, Rekai Centres). The Rekai Centres have been engaging deeply with the local 2SLGBTQI+ community for many years, and in 2022 opened the first known ‘Rainbow Wing’ in North America, with plans to open another one in 2024.
The Tool Kit and its creators have big dreams about the project’s future and hopes for its legacy. The group aims to create additional training for providers to support the delivery of inclusive, affirming care for Rainbow Seniors. They wish to share the Tool Kit with LTC homes across the province to expand their reach and impact.
- City of Toronto SSLTC Pride Video Series: These short videos feature 2SLGBTQI+ seniors speaking about things that matter to them.
- How to better support 2SLGBTQI+ seniors: See page 28 for the OLTCA Today article (2022).
- The Rekai Centres
Interview conducted by Olive Folsetter, Co-Op Student, Ontario CLRI at Bruyère