Liz Thomson with i2i member & Passages staff, Randy Kim
On Thursday, January 9, I did a training at Passages Hospice, in Lisle, IL for about 45 staff members. The training had been organized through the advocacy of another i2i member, who works at Passages. We had met a few months ago and had connected because of our aging parents. We both talked about our challenges with our moms, siblings, and anxiety around “coming out” to different healthcare workers. In late November, i2i had organized a panel of LGBTQ adults and eldercare issues.
For me, I honestly did not know what to expect. I knew this was the first LGBTQ 101 training they had organized. This training also was different for me, because thinking about hospice and end of life is more of a reality. As I searched throughout the web site for words like “gay” or “lesbian” and their mission, values, and diversity statement, I also learned about how the company got started and their patient and family centered philosophy.
There were a variety of folks in attendance for this monthly regional meeting. They ranged from social workers, administrative staff, Chaplains, and CNAs. I emphasized in the very beginning, that I wasn’t here to change anyone’s personal or political beliefs, but being more educated about LGBT communities would positively affect how they work with their colleagues, volunteers, patients, and their families.
As I mentioned before, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised when many of the staff members really opened up and shared stories about their patients and even their family members. I think they appreciated the space to be able to talk about the subject. There was great discussion about how to affirm one’s gender identity if you don’t know. We talked about modeling introductions with name and pronoun(s) or no pronoun. I mentioned genderqueer and later a staff member bravely came out as genderqueer and thanked me for including that identity.
Yes, I know LGBT folks are truly everywhere. We are electricians, retail workers, CTA bus drivers, teachers, executive directors, and CEOs. We are hospice care workers. For me, I enjoyed learning more about the way hospice works and how they care for the loved one until they pass. I hope that the staff gained knowledge and awareness of the diverse LGBT communities.