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Paul Blom
Published By Right at Home on August 08, 2019

Minnesota-based Home Care Agency Owner Continues to Passionately Support Diversity Practices of Aging Service Providers With National LGBT Training Webinar

A 2010 documentary film, “Gen Silent,” shed light on the challenges lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults face when they seek long-term healthcare. With concerns about their safety and quality of care, many LGBT elders must choose to hide their gender identity and/or sexual orientation to survive in the healthcare system.

Since that time, Paul Blom, owner of Right at Home Greater Twin Cities and a founding board member of Training to Serve, has been a part of training over 13,000 senior service providers in Minnesota and across the country on caring for LGBT older adults.

“Understanding the Older LGBT Community and Its Unique Needs & Barriers” – August 28 Webinar

“Understanding the Older LGBT Community and Its Unique Needs & Barriers” is a one-hour training curriculum customized by Blom for the American Society on Aging audience.

“As an organization, Right at Home wants the LGBT elders to see us as a welcoming place,” says Blom. “The training is not about how to take care of someone differently, it’s about understanding what makes older LGBT folks feel the way they feel and how we can help them feel comfortable. We want to help them seek the help that they need.”

The curriculum explains the concepts of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and gender expression, and it dispels LGBT stereotypes. It also offers ideas to people who receive the training on how they can support welcoming services for LGBT older adults.

“It’s also not just about the LGBT elders — it’s about their children, too,” Blom adds. “We provide care for an elderly woman who’s in her 90s with dementia. She lives with her son and his husband. There’s sensitivity around that that you need to have. Even though the woman is not LGBT, her son and his husband fear that she may not be well taken care of because they are.”

Continual Education on LGBT Elder Care and Advocacy

Besides making the LGBT elder care training module available to the greater Right at Home system, Blom facilitates the training in his local community and nationally through Training to Serve. “Since 2010, we have trained over 13,000 senior service providers,” says Blom.

The curriculum contains a comprehensive four-hour program, a streamlined two-hour program, and a variety of more condensed, one-hour versions to meet the time constraints of frontline care staff, conferences and webinars. Blom and his team typically give the four-hour training to management staff, so they can support everyone else better. Other members in an organization, such as direct care staff, nutritionists, maintenance staff and administrative staff in a nursing home, receive the two- or one-hour training.

Blom says, “Whenever I start a training session, I always say, ‘I’m not here to change your spiritual belief or your moral belief around sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s not what this is about. This is about the fact that your organization’s mission is to improve the quality of life for the people you serve, and you already serve people who identify as LGB and/or T. So, if you can help them feel more comfortable, you can provide them a better plan of care.’”

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