03/25/2015 10:21 EDT | Updated 05/25/2015 05:59 EDT

End-of-life planning website launched for LGBT seniors

The recognition of LGBT rights may have come a long way in Vancouver and other parts of Canada, but many queer seniors still face discrimination when it comes to end-of-life care, says one B.C. gerontology expert.

Simon Fraser University gerontology professor Gloria Gutman and a colleague recently launched LGBT End-of-Life Conversations, a website that helps seniors in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax find LGBT-friendly service providers who can help with things like accessing housing or health care facilities, or preparing living wills or representation agreements.

The website is part of Gutman's research, which looked at the challenges and stigma that some queer seniors in the five Canadian cities face inside care homes and within their communities.

"It was an issue of staff not understanding their needs … or being homophobic," Gutman said in an interview with On The Island. "Sometimes there was discrimination on the part of other residents who aren't welcoming."

Gutman calls the discrimination that some LGBT seniors face a form of elder abuse.

"In some cases, older people who are homosexual had to go back into the closet as it were," she said.

Gutman says she hopes the new website will not only empower people to take action in regards to end-of-life planning, but it will also give them a safe space to share their concerns.

To hear the full interview with Gloria Gutman, click on the audio labelled: Website launched to help LGBT seniors plan for end-of-life care