CMSS is dedicated to providing a continuum of care that is inclusive to all older adults. In our model, we embrace the needs of our diverse and evolving community and empower those we serve to live their best lives. We believe that everyone belongs in our communities, including LGBT+ individuals and it is our mission to provide equitable care that allows residents, visitors, and employees to feel safe and affirmed.
This year, we are thrilled to announce that two of CMSS’ communities, Hartwell Place and Wesley Place, have been named High Performers by the Long-Term Care Equality Index Survey. Hartwell Place and Wesley Place are the only communities to receive such a distinction in all of Chicago. The Long-Term Care Equality Index (LEI) is the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey of residential long-term care and senior housing which aims to promote equitable treatment and inclusion for LGBT+ residents, visitors, and employees.
“We know that many LGBT+ individuals are afraid of entering long-term care settings for fear that they wouldn’t be able to live authentically. At CMSS, we are on a path to creating communities that reduce this fear. It is a true honor for CMSS to be recognized for our dedication and passion for LGBT+ inclusivity.”
-Katie Fasullo, Corporate Director of Population Health & Health Equity
What is the Long-Term Care Equality Index (LEI)?
The Long-Term Care Equality Index (LEI) is a collaboration between the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and SAGE which promotes LGBT+ inclusive policies and practices in long-term care and senior housing communities. To participate in the LEI, communities first pledge to adopt LGBT+ inclusive policies and practices, then complete a comprehensive self-assessment. The LEI includes information to help long-term care and senior housing communities implement best practices that provide culturally competent care to LGBT+ older people. The LEI is the first validated survey on LGBT+ inclusion in long-term care, and CMSS is proud to be among the early participants in the survey.
Why is the LEI important?
The U.S. population is aging, and as the 2023 LEI Report states, by the year 2030 there will be more than seven million LGBT+ people over the age of 50. As the number of LGBT+ older adults increase, it’s important to understand the ways in which LGBT+ older adults have historically been marginalized in care settings. Many are concerned about social support as they age and 70% of LGBT+ older people are concerned they will have to hide their identity in a long-term care community. CMSS and other long-term care and senior housing communities are participating in the LEI to better protect LGBT+ adults from discrimination and ensure they can find a welcoming community that addresses all of their needs.
What does it mean to be a “High-Performer”?
To participate in the LEI, communities provide data on four criteria:
1. Non-Discrimination and Staff Training: This criterion ensures that organizations create a strong foundation for inclusivity with legal protections for LGBT+ residents, visitors, and staff. To meet this criterion employees must complete training in LGBT+ resident-centered care.
2. Resident Services and Support: This section of the LEI requires organizations to report on policies and practices that demonstrate progress toward LGBT+ resident care and support.
3. Employee Benefits and Policies: This criterion promotes equity and inclusion for LGBT+ employees. It ensures that LGBT+ employees receive equal treatment and access to health-related benefits and policies.
4. Resident and Community Engagement: This section requires LEI organizations to report on practices to publicly demonstrate commitment to the LGBT+ community.
To be considered a High Performer, communities must meet all the requirements in criterion one and adopt a minimum of practices in the other three criteria areas. We are very proud of this recognition and we commit to continuing to create greater equity for the LGBT+ community.
Why does CMSS use the acronym LGBT+?
Readers may be familiar with various acronyms referencing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other sexual and gender identities. As an organization that serves older adults, CMSS intentionally uses the acronym LGBT+ as a trauma-informed approach to care. Despite the fact that many younger individuals have reclaimed the word “queer” as an identity, the word was historically used as a derogatory slur. Many older adults still connect “queer” to this past discrimination and trauma. In seeking to respect our community’s relationship with “queer”, while also recognizing individuals who may identify this way, we use the acronym LGBT+ with the “+” representing the many identities not included in “LGBT.” Read more here.