How Kendal Fosters Inclusive Aging Experiences for LGBTQ+ Elders

At Kendal we believe that a spirit and culture of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) strengthen communities, people and services. We strive to live out Kendal Values and Practices and believe a commitment to diversity goes beyond a verbal agreement and is meant to be displayed through an organization’s initiatives.

To build an intentional foundation of DEIB efforts that Kendal-affiliated communities can rely on, a Kendal system-wide committee was created in 2020 to foster collaboration, establish best practices and share initiatives internally and externally. Supported by five Quaker-inspired pillars, including structural inclusion, welcoming an inclusive environment, non-judgmental inquiry, open communications and sharing our mission, the DEIB committee serves each affiliate’s unique community needs, to cultivate environments where older adults feel they belong.

Older adults should feel welcome as they enter a new chapter of their lives, focused on experiencing fulfillment as they age. Sadly, 70% of LGBTQ+ older adults report concerns about having to hide their sexual identity in an assisted living community or nursing center, according to a 2018 study by the AARP. Fortunately, that is not the case in Kendal communities, where cultivating welcoming environments and DEIB efforts are intentionally practiced benefiting residents and staff in Kendal-affiliated communities across the country.  

SAGECare Accreditations Across the System

Across the Kendal System, affiliates have earned SAGECare certifications, illustrating their dedication to providing exemplary service to LGBTQ+ elders. SAGECare is a division of SAGE, the country’s oldest and largest non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ older adults. Kendal affiliates that have earned SAGECare accreditation have met certain standards and undergone holistic cultural competency training to understand better how to best serve older adult residents who identify as LGBTQ+. Employees are trained in topics such as creating a welcoming environment for current and potential LGBTQ+ residents and the importance of understanding the culture, needs and concerns of LGBTQ+ older adults.

Most recently, Kendal at Ithaca completed certification, Kendal at Oberlin is on track for comleting the program in July and Kendal at Hanover is in the process of renewing theirs. Kendal at Home, and The Admiral at The Lake have been accredited by SAGECare for a few years, while other communities are investigating the next steps for beginning the certification process.

Long-Term Care Equality Index at Kendal at Oberlin

Kendal at Oberlin recently participated in the Long-Term Equality Index 2023 (L.E.I), a report from SAGE and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, that is the first validated survey on LGBTQ+ inclusion in long-term care and older adult community settings.

The L.E.I. was created to promote LGBTQ+ inclusive policies and practices in long-term care and older adult communities while measuring benchmarks of LGBTQ+ inclusion in community settings. The report also proves a useful resource for older adults who identify as LGBTQ+ who are looking for communities that will welcome, protect and support them.

As a participant in the study, Kendal at Oberlin was recognized as a LGBTQ+ Long-Term Care Equality High Performer indicating they have set a solid foundation of key non-discrimination policies and adopted best practices in the areas of resident services and supports, employee benefits and policies, and resident and community engagement.

Celebrating Pride Month Throughout Kendal

Lathrop Community has been deeply involved in this year’s Pride celebrations, as community volunteers recently participated in the local Northampton Massachusetts Pride Parade as a lead sponsor. Later in June, Lathrop plans to hold an educational session on June 28 to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 1969.

During Chicago’s 2022 Pride Parade, The Admiral at the Lake was the only senior living community to walk and ride on a float. Volunteers will be participating again this year and extending their festivities on campus throughout June. The Employee Engagement Committee will be providing Pride flags and more to residents and a series of educational sessions discussing the history of Pride is also in the works.

The Admiral’s Pride Month programming is just part of their work related to diversity, equity, inclusion, access and belonging. As part of their Strategic Plan, they are investing in intentional work to create a more inclusive community. For example, by participating in a cultural values workshop, the need to educate further on gender pronouns was revealed. As a result, The Admiral is now introducing preferred pronouns in numerous forums from the welcome board for new staff and residents to introductions at every meeting.

Welcoming and promoting diversity on both a corporate and affiliate level will continue to enrich Kendal communities, people, services and experiences.

Residents of Kendal at Oberlin
Residents of Kendal at Oberlin