Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

15948 Services for Older LGBT Adults: A Description and Evaluation of a Model Service Delivery System

Friday, January 13, 2012: 9:30 AM
Penn Quarter B (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Anissa Rogers, PhD, LCSW, MA, Professor of Social Work, University of Portland, Portland, OR
Purpose: Though much attention has been given to the aging of the population, little attention has been given to aging lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning/queer (LGBTQ) individuals. Indeed, this subpopulation is often referred to as “hidden,” even though their numbers in the U.S. are estimated to exceed 6 million by 2030 (Hash & Cramer, 2003). Many in the older LGBTQ population experience multiple and unique barriers to services. Factors such as heterosexism among helping professionals; discriminatory service and social policies; and legal issues that define rights affecting older LGBTQ individuals and their families impact access to services (Killian, 2010). The purpose of this study is to describe a comprehensive service model targeting an older LGBT community and evaluate the effectiveness of one component of its outreach services. The research question guiding this study is, to what extent does a component of this service model increase the awareness of issues faced by individuals in this population for helping professionals? Methods: A secondary data analysis was conducted on quantitative and qualitative data collected through evaluations of an outreach training program designed to increase awareness of issues faced by the older LGBT population for aspiring and experienced helping professionals in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area. At the trainings' conclusion, participants provided demographic information and ratings on a 5-point likert scale, where 1=poor and 5=excellent, regarding the quality of various components of the training. Participants also responded to a qualitative question about the effectiveness of the training. Data were collected for 34 trainings in different educational and service settings from the years 2005 through 2011. Descriptive and comparative analyses were conducted on the quantitative data to ascertain the trainings' effectiveness with regard to increasing participants' awareness of issues facing older LGBT individuals and thematic analyses were conducted on qualitative data to detect themes about the nature of the training's effectiveness. Results: Preliminary results indicate that training participants' average age was 26 years (range = 18 to 60). Most (84%) participants identified as female, with 11% identifying as LGBQ or other. A majority (84%) identified as White/Caucasian and most (80%) earned less than $15,999 per year. The average rating for the trainings was 4.6 (very good/excellent). Themes that emerged from qualitative analyses included: 1.) The training provided information on issues that participants had never thought of before; and 2.) Personal stories and openness of the trainers increased the effectiveness of the training. Conclusions and Implications: This study provides a rich description of a unique service model for older LGBT individuals. It also provides data on the effectiveness of a component of that model with regard to increasing awareness of the issues faced by older LGBT individuals. The findings, couched in the strengths perspective, illuminate considerations regarding service provision for this population that can be used by social workers, policy makers, and allied professionals to promote access to sensitive and effective care for older LGBT communities.
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