A new tool for embracing diversity and inclusion in long-term care

A new resource from the Ontario Centres for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care (Ontario CLRI) is working to make long-term care a more inclusive space for anyone who lives, works and visits. Embracing Diversity: A Toolkit for Supporting Inclusion in Long-Term Care was released by the Ontario CLRI in June 2020, and offers a variety of resources to nurture a welcoming and affirming environment for diverse communities within long-term care (LTC) homes.

“It’s all about starting those conversations about equity and inclusion,” says Michelle Fleming, Knowledge Broker with the Ontario CLRI at Bruyère and lead on the diversity and inclusion in LTC initiative.“This resource will help homes wherever they are in their journey towards inclusion. From just starting the conversation to looking to strengthen their connections with diverse communities, this toolkit provides support at each step of the way.”

The toolkit focuses on seven impact areas where homes can improve from organizational culture to employee education and training to resident and family engagement. There are several resources for self-reflection of implicit biases designed for use by individuals, as well as organization-wide assessment tools that can guide homes to find better ways to be inclusive.

The Embracing Diversity toolkit was created through research and consultation with LTC team members, LTC leaders, researchers, LTC sector partner organizations and residents through an advisory group, as well as engagement with individuals with lived experience. These consultations provided insight into life in LTC and the ways experiences could be improved by considering individual circumstances including language, ability, race, ethnicity, religion, spirituality, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status. Examples of homes with a history of success with celebrating and honouring diversity are featured through the guide.

One of the homes highlighted is the Village of Winston Park in Kitchener. The home was recognized by the Ontario CLRI team for their work supporting the LGBTQI2S+ community. “Winston Park is a great example of a home that has taken great steps in their inclusion journey,” says Fleming. “They started small by making a commitment to supporting the LGBTQI2S+ community, and took concrete steps over a period of two years. They have been working hard to foster a welcoming environment, inviting in a community-based organization to teach courses on ‘Aging with Pride’, hosting their own pride celebrations and parades, and including diversity questions and scenarios into their interview process for new team members. Schlegel Villages’ commitment to inclusion and person-centred care is inspiring, and other organizations can see how they can start the work of becoming more inclusive through their example.”

The Ontario CLRI is funded by the Government of Ontario and hosted at Baycrest Health Sciences, Bruyère, and the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging. This project, led by the Bruyère team, brought together experts and people with lived experience. Embracing Diversity: A Toolkit for Supporting Inclusion in Long-Term Care is available to download for free on the Ontario CLRI website. 

This story was featured in the October issue of RIA’s Research Matters. Read other issues of Research Matters.