Throughout the summer, local seniors will have the chance to complete a survey that will assist both LGBT and mainstream agencies in becoming better equipped to handle the needs of the elder sexual-minority population.
The survey, offered online and in print form at the William Way LGBT Community Center, is supported by a grant the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund received from the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
Gloria Casarez, the city’s director of LGBT affairs, said the effort is collaborative.
“DVLF was interested in trying to learn more about LGBT senior needs and then, at the same time, another group of folks, including my office, William Way and senior-serving organizations like the Senior Law Center, were looking at putting together a senior summit, so a couple of months ago those two efforts came together and we decided to reach out with a survey,” she said.
The LGBT Elders Working Group, which also includes representatives from such agencies as Mazzoni Center and Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative, recently launched the 18-question survey, which is geared for those 55 and over.
In addition to gathering basic demographic information, such as income, race and age, the anonymous survey asks participants to prioritize such issues as nutrition, housing, recreation and socializing. It also questions respondents about the frequency of their medical check-ups, their transportation, nutritional and housing needs and their views on the current social services available for local LGBT seniors.
Casarez noted that the survey is straightforward, but also an important first step in understanding the LGBT senior community.
“It’s not meant to be an end-all, be-all, and it’s not super-scientific,” she said. “This is the first time we’re asking our seniors about what their needs are and is a first effort to get a better sense of what our community wants as we age.”
Survey organizers originally expected about 250 responses, but after canvassing at such events as Pride and with the cooperation of the many partner organizations, the coalition has already received half that number of responses.
The survey will remain open until the end of the summer, with results expected to be presented at the first senior summit, planned for October.
Casarez said the more input that’s received, the better local agencies can tailor their programs to seniors’ unique needs.
“By and large, the LGBT organizations need to know more about the needs of our seniors and become more senior-competent. And the senior organizations need to be more LGBT-competent,” she said. “This is a good time where folks on both sides are wanting to know more about the other. So we see it as a jumping-off point for really developing culturally competent programming and services for our elder population.”
To access the online version of the survey, visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/localseniors. The survey can also be picked up at the William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St.