Right at Home earns certification for LGBTQ+ patients

Caregiving is about being a support system for a patient, but the owner of a local health care provider hopes to take that support a step further.Stephanie Humphries is owner of Right at Home, a Cedar Rapids branch of the Omaha-based care and assistance company used by seniors and disabled adults living at home.

Recently, caregivers and other staff members of Right at Home received certification in SAGECare, a cultural competency training centered on the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender community.

The training is offered by SAGE, the country’s largest advocacy organization for older LGBTQ+ people. According to SAGE, approximately 7 million LGBTQ+ older adults are expected in the United States by 2030.

Humphries answered question about the certification and what it means.

Q: What does your SAGECare certification entail?

A: At this level, SAGECare just offers a different amount of online training. It’s webinars, videos, things the organization has prepared to really define, for example, what is bisexuality, what does it mean to be transgender. So just raising that education level on what those terms mean and what that means for a particular individual that addresses themselves that way.

Q: What do your caregivers learn from the training?

A: What a proper response would be, and where to take the conversation from there with an appropriate tone. And good listening, that’s a lot of it. You don’t even have to say a lot and it’s certainly not making your personal opinions known. It’s just being a good listener and someone who is trustworthy, so that if they get that relationship established, then (the senior) would feel comfortable opening up and discussing those things.

Q: Why did you want to get this certification?

A: I had to train about a third of the staff. I had them undergo the training just to raise awareness, raise sensitivity to the issue and empathy to the issue. We’re helping people in very vulnerable situations, very personal situations and we’re oftentimes entering their turf, we’re going into their homes. I just wanted the staff to be educated and be aware our seniors are LGBTQ+ as well. If (the seniors) felt they could express themselves or just talk about who they are — just because of the close relationship that is established a lot of times between our clients and our caregivers — then I would just like our caregivers to empathize with that and be open to those conversations. Non-judgmental.

Q: What’s the biggest take away from the program?

A: It’s not the expectation that I’m going to sit here and change someone’s mind or magically transform what they think, but I’m in a position where I can provide some education, some training, some awareness. At the end of the day, for me and for what we do here, it’s making their lives better. Just having that respect for who they are as an individual.

Q: What’s the next step?

A: My goal is to progressively, over time, get more of the staff involved.

This article originally appeared in The Gazette on May 12, 2018.