Out, proud and ready to retire

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 05:00 09/07/2014

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The first generation of openly out and proud gay and lesbian people are reaching retirement age and a new "silver rainbow kit" has been put together to prepare carers.

The kit details best practice for aged residential care in New Zealand and the wider community, Dr Michal Boyd says.

The senior nursing lecturer and practitioner at the University of Auckland says research into lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) elderly began three years ago.

The researchers were approached by The Rule Foundation which focuses on the gay and lesbian communities' wellbeing.

Boyd says that through conducting interviews, researchers found many aged care staff did not realise their clients may have been part of the LGBT community.

These staff say they treat LGBT elderly no differently to others but Boyd says that does not honour their culture.

Many carers were more open towards LGBT elderly, depending on their personal experiences, she says.

Older gay and lesbian people are "very much in the closet" because homosexuality was illegal when they were growing up.

Researchers found the elderly had no reason to come out later in life, Boyd says.

Nursing academic Dr Garry Bellamy carried out early research and found dealing with the attitudes of other residents was the main concern.

The Silver Rainbow Kit was created by the researchers with videos and tools to help staff better understand LGBT culture.

Boyd says carers need to be prepared because the first openly out and proud generation of LGBT people are now reaching retirement age.

Australian and United States centres have also shown interest in using the resource.

Go to facebook.com/SilverRainbowNewZealand to download the kit free.

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- East And Bays Courier

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