HCN News & Notes

Christopher Heights Receives Platinum Designation for LGBT Cultural Competency Training

NORTHAMPTON — Christopher Heights Northampton (CHN) recently became the first assisted living Community in Western Mass. to receive LGBT Cultural Competency Accreditation through SageCARE, a national cultural competency LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) training program for healthcare providers for older populations.

The training focused on increasing awareness about the unique needs and concerns of LGBT older adults, offering meaningful ways to best support LGBT older adults, and providing measures for creating genuinely inclusive communities and services. 

“Christopher Heights helps seniors enjoy their life as they age; we create a welcoming home for our residents at vulnerable times, including transitioning from living alone to living in a supportive community,” said Michael Taylor, CHN’s executive director. “Seniors who identify as LBGTQ have often faced discrimination and might be nervous to join a new community. We want all people to know they will be welcomed and supported with dignity when they walk through our doors.”

CHN’s commitment to creating and maintaining an inclusive community is reflected in the high participation rate — 96% of its managers and frontline staff completed the training—and in its Platinum designation, SageCARE’s highest rating.

“Given our unique LGBT-friendly location, we want to ensure that Christopher Heights of Northampton is at the forefront of acceptance and inclusivity for all Assisted Living Communities in Western Massachusetts,” said Teresa Weybrew, director of Marketing and Admission at CHN. 

Jackie Dionne, CHN’s resident care manager, said she feels that the training has given staff more tools to better welcome all residents. “We are always working on providing care from the heart, so it’s helpful to have more insight into how to offer compassion and awareness.”

Karen Bradway, CHN’s Life Enrichment director, was impressed that the residents took everything from the training in stride. She noted that it initiated substantive conversations about gender and sexuality at the staff level that had not surfaced previously. “The training was an important step in exploring the on-going ways of addressing inclusiveness,” she said.