My time in Sydney is almost at an end. I have an hour or so this morning to blog something then I’m off out again to visit University of New South Wales to look at the work they are doing around developing an eLearning resource specifically for those supporting LGBTI people who present with BPSD (Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia). I cannot thank everyone enough for their time, generosity and positivity. I’m really looking forward to spending time with UNSW today.
I arrived in Sydney a bit later than expected due to a flight cancellation. I had no time to suss out the neighbourhood and only had time to let my lovely partner know I had arrived safely (he worries about it…) before crashing out in bed. The next day saw me visiting by Carrie Hayter who runs her own consultancy business and Samantha Edmonds from the National LGBTI Health Alliance. Both insisted that we chat in one of the million cafes in Newtown. My chai addiction is now totally out of control 😉
Carrie is just fabulous company and knows everyone! She has provided me with such great contacts which I can follow up with when I’m at home. She even suggested that we put together a symposium at a conference in 2019. I’m saving for my return ticket already. Carrie is the Vice President of the NSW branch of the LGBTI Ageing Interest group and works closely with the Australian Association of Gerontology and was able to give me a great insight into the current political landscape in terms of aged care. She has such a vast amount of experience in the care sector generally that knowledge and wisdom just flows out of her. I very much hope that we get to work together on something in the future. She’s just fab.
Then off to meet with Sam at another café. Very grateful to have this meeting as Sam was only in Sydney for a few hours before jetting off somewhere else. Even with suitcase in tow, she found the time to chat with me. Sam is leading on the Silver Rainbows project, an LGBTI inclusive aged care initiative. We talked about the political and legislative changes which have enabled this project to continue and the challenges of changing attitudes through training a large workforce. I am beginning to get a much firmer grasp on what needs to be in place to achieve inclusive care. Government backing, funding, project leads, fair representation of those who are being supported, accreditation, ongoing change. It’s a challenge but do-able – hopefully in my lifetime. My head spinning with new information, grand plans and hopes to make a difference I took myself out to dinner and headed back to my hotel for an early night as I had a very early start the next day.
The following day, bright and early I headed off out for a day at Uniting. Uniting are a very large faith based care provider. They were one of the first organisation – and I believe the largest to date – who obtained their Rainbow Tick Accreditation. The wonderful Fleur was my chaperone for the day and had worked out an amazing timetable of events – I was glad to see that we ended up in a bar at the end of the day!
During the course of the day I met some fabulous people who talked with such passion about inclusive care and answered all my questions fully. Probably the highlight of my day was meeting with Bernette who talked about how supported she felt living in a Uniting home. Bernette took us to a local Portuguese café where we enjoyed a delicious lunch whilst she told me about her history as one of the 78ers and how proud she was to have been able to attend the Mardi Gras recently – photographic evidence of which hangs pride of place in her residential facility.
On my whistle stop tour I met with Tony who is responsible for training who talked me through the training packages which were being rolled out prior to the Rainbow Tick and continue to be included in induction, online and as refreshers throughout the work force. I met with staff who were responsible for managing packages of care and heard their anecdotal evidence of people who had previously had bad experiences with care providers but who now felt welcome, included and celebrated. I had long conversations with staff about how inclusive care for the LGBTI+ community was embedded within a faith based organisation. It was a fascinating and exhausting day.
Further updates on this amazing adventure to come. Must dash I’ve got a bus to catch 🙂