BRISTOL, Conn. (June 11, 2015)
– Connecticut Community Care, Inc. (CCCI) has launched an innovative project to ensure that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals and their families are consistently treated with respect and dignity. CCCI was invited to apply for and subsequently awarded a grant from The John H. and Ethel G. Noble Charitable Trust administered by Deutsche Bank Trust Company, N.A. Work is under way to systematically assess the organization’s operations relative to LGBT individuals, develop a model of implementation for becoming open and affirming, and share what is learned with other organizations. The grant, called the “Getting it Right: Creating an LGBT Responsive Organization,” includes a formal organization assessment and evaluation process, strong collaboration with local and national parties, ongoing staff training and the dissemination of shared lessons learned.
CCCI hired Joan Twiggs, Ph.D., as project coordinator for the “Getting it Right” initiative. Twiggs specializes in working with non-profits and is one of the founding members of the LGBT Aging Advocacy Group along with CCCI and other organizations and individuals. The Advocacy Group has been working for more than a year in the Hartford area to create awareness of needs of LGBT elders and the importance of organizational inclusivity, and to create open and affirming aging services for LGBT elders. They have found that while this is a new topic for service providers and policymakers, there is great interest in learning more about how to promote inclusion.
“Joan Twiggs has assembled an internal CCCI Steering Committee with representatives from throughout the organization to guide the “Getting it Right’ process, said CCCI President Molly Rees Gavin. “She is helping us examine and refine our practice in key areas including governance, human resources, communications, advocacy, education, intake and clinical practices to assure that we are open and affirming.”
“I’m excited to be working with the CCCI team to identify opportunities to deepen their commitment to inclusive services for all consumers,” said Twiggs. “After attending many meetings, I’ve found staff to be eager to learn more; they are requesting concrete guidance and resources. They will benefit tremendously from training and consultation by SAGE, the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit organization providing direct services and advocacy for LGBT older adults. In addition to SAGE’s work as a stand-alone organization, since 2010 it has been the lead organization providing resources through the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, which is a federal initiative.”
The compelling documentary, “Gen Silent,” shown in various statewide venues, exposes the isolation, fear, anxiety and depression experienced by LGBT older adults as they interact with the long-term care system. Current estimates suggest that 1.5 million Americans over age 65 are LGBT. By 2030, this number will increase to three million individuals. In Connecticut, there are an estimated 95,000 LGBT adults with some 27,000 age 65 and over projected in 10 years, according to Movement Advancement Project and LGBT Aging Advocacy. According to the latest statistics in The Aging and Health Report: Disparities and Resilience in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Older Adults (2011), these individuals are four times less likely to have children, twice as likely to live alone and five times less likely to access senior services than their heterosexual peers. Combined with a lifetime of stigma and discrimination, the result is a much higher prevalence of social isolation. They are also more likely to assume the role of caregiver for another individual given the greater likelihood of being less embedded in biological families.
Every aspect of this project is documented so that it can be deployed to other organizations. “The work we are doing here at CCCI will be invaluable for other organizations that undertake this important work, “ Twiggs said. “We will develop concrete recommendations and tools for conducting an organization review, for framing inclusive questions and also help address challenges that are sure to arise.”
“CCCI has repeatedly demonstrated that well-coordinated community-based services provide dignified, effective and efficient alternatives to institutional care,” Gavin said. “Each year, our care management and coordination saves Connecticut millions of dollars. We continue to focus on increasing community resources for various populations and emerging needs. ‘”Getting it Right’” is one more opportunity to make a difference.” CCCI
identifies choices and provides services to help people of all ages, abilities and incomes to live in the home of their choice. For 35 years, person-centered care coordination and transition services have been provided for older adults and younger people with disabilities. CCCI believes that self-determination (the right of all people to have as much control over the aspects of their life that are important to them) is critical for those the organization serves. Providing information, resources and assistance and developing care plans that address the individual’s strengths, preferences and unmet needs are at the core of CCCI’s work. A staff of 267 serves more than 15,000 individuals and families throughout Connecticut each year. Care managers conduct holistic assessments, develop comprehensive and individualized care plans and make referrals to direct service providers. Plans are monitored and services are adjusted as needed. CCCI maintains offices in Wethersfield, Watertown, Franklin and Bristol. www.ctcommunitycare.org
Molly Rees Gavin
Phone: (860) 314-2234