More than 2.4 million older adults identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer (LGBTQ+) in the U.S. By 2030, the older adult population could reach over 7 million. It’s more important than ever that senior care communities offer inclusive care and expanded LGBTQ+ services to serve this growing population.

At CMSS, we are doubling down on our commitment to assist older adults who identify as LGBTQ+. We need sufficient and competent health care for all older adults, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. Here are a few ways we’re expanding our footprint by better serving this population with inclusive care:

Coordinating with WSSS to Strengthen LGBTQ+ Services

In 2019, CMSS acquired West Suburban Senior Services (WSSS) in Bellwood, IL. WSSS’s partnership with Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) opened the doors for members of the LGBTQ+ community to hear from informative guest speakers, socialize with one another at regular Friday lunches, and attend discussion groups, in addition to other programming.

“Wherever LGBTQ+ older adults may be living, we want them to know that CMSS communities will always hold the door open for them,” said Bill Lowe, president and CEO of CMSS.

Acquiring WSSS allowed CMSS to become even more intentional and overt with LGBTQ+ services outreach. The natural next step was taking what employees were learning every day at WSSS and making that widespread across all of the CMSS communities.

Empowering CMSS Employees Through SAGECare Training

After hearing about the great work CMSS was doing in the WSSS community, employees became interested in learning more about how they could better serve LGBTQ+ residents. CMSS once again partnered with SAGE last fall, this time to go through the SAGECare training.

This in-person learning experience taught employees across each community how to better understand the cultures, needs, and concerns of LGBTQ+ older adults. CMSS earned the Platinum SAGECare credential, the highest level a nonprofit can achieve, because over 80 percent of our employees, executives and administrators attended the training.

“Our intention is to help LGBTQ+ residents overcome any barriers they may experience and ensure they have all of their needs met with understanding and sensitivity,” said Eric Eugenio-Vironet, executive director of WSSS.

CMSS stands firmly on the values of equality, fairness, and inclusivity. We’re proud to have had such a successful training with SAGECare and would encourage all senior care organizations to go through the program.

Spearheading New Initiatives and Events for LGBTQ+

CMSS’ goal is to continue with the momentum we gained from SAGECare training and apply what we learned to new initiatives and events on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. Here are several ways we are doing so:

  • Developing CMSS’ newly created LBGTQ+ sub-committee, which will provide strategic guidance around offering inclusive care and services for the older adult LGBTQ+ population.
  • Examining internal documents, intake forms and other resources to make sure they are inclusive.
  • Presenting a recent webinar hosted by Mindy Cheek, first vice president of Greystone Communities, that examines the complex issues surrounding how LGBTQ+ older adults have created ways to keep themselves safe over the years and how those accommodations impact their access to healthcare and social services.
  • Hosting a documentary screening of Gen Silent on Wednesday, May 20th. A panel discussion will take place following the documentary which will include Serena Worthington, the director of U.S. and global collaborations at SAGE, and Britta Larson, the senior services director at Center on Halsted.

These are just a few of the new ways CMSS is ensuring our LGBTQ+ services are inclusive, forward-thinking and exciting. If you would like to learn more about upcoming events and announcements, subscribe to our monthly newsletter.