Elderly members of the gay community often go "back into the closet" to avoid mistreatment in aged care, according to Transgender Victoria (TGV).
The claim comes as aged-care workers undertake training to support older people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) in a bid to address a growing need in the sector.
Specialist training is being delivered to home carers and staff from residential facilities to arm them with tools to provide appropriate support for older members of the LGBTI community and raise awareness of the issues facing them.
The federally funded initiative is being rolled out in response to the federal government's first National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy, which identified a need for the workforce to be educated in inclusive care practices.
TGV treasurer Brenda Appleton said: "It's an issue as our baby boomers are getting older and there are a lot more people coming into the aged-care sector that will want to be treated properly. The training is aimed at trying to ensure older LGBTI people don't have to go back into the 'closet' as they seek support in their older years, which has all too often been the case. People that have been in the 'closet' when they were young have been forced to go back in their older years because they've not been treated with the dignity and respect they should have."
Ms Appleton, who is one of the people delivering the one-day training courses that began in Melbourne last month, said one of the challenges faced by staff at aged-care facilities was ensuring LGBTI people were treated appropriately by other residents.
She said some aged-care residents, as well as those who had home care, faced difficulties such as feeling compelled to remove all evidence that they were LGBTI to avoid being judged by workers.
"The training is designed to make people a little bit more aware of some of the issues and giving them more confidence in terms of how they need to respond to people who are LGBTI," Ms Appleton said.
TGV is teaming up with Inner North West Melbourne Medicare Local to deliver LGBTI aged-care sector training in Parkville on September 18.
www.inwmml.org.au or www.transgendervictoria.com