BOSTON (State House News Service) – A longtime activist appeared at the LGBTQ Commission on Aging’s quarterly meeting Tuesday to advocate for an addendum to state nursing home quality assessments focused on the treatment of elderly LGBTQ+ residents in long-term care facilities.
Activist Alejandro Marcel has lived in a nursing home in Massachusetts for the last year and a half, he said, and as a transgender man he has been appalled by what he said are “nuanced” levels of discrimination LGBTQ+ people face in these facilities.
“They’re not saying to me, ‘Oh, you’re transgender, I’m not going to change your diaper.’ But if they don’t like you they might take you to the toilet and let you sit there for an hour,” he said.
Marcel described a situation in his nursing home where a lesbian couple was split up, though he said heterosexual couples are not. He described the discrimination as “dehumanizing” and said he knew people who re-closeted themselves when they entered nursing homes.
“There’s no accountability,” he said. “We need teeth. We need to be able to say, ‘You cannot do this.’ ”
Marcel proposed an LGBTQ addendum to the state Department of Public Health’s nursing home quality assessments so the treatment of marginalized residents directly factors into a nursing home’s rating. Assistant commissioner of the DPH Kevin Cranston said he would bring the addendum idea forward to the department. Commissioners thanked Marcel for sharing his concerns, and Sen. Patricia Jehlen offered to help Marcel continue to advocate for LGBTQ nursing home residents.
“We need to do more to strengthen quality [in nursing homes], and this should be one of the measures of quality,” Jehlen said.