A new study out of Miami suggests that Americans are much more accepting of gay couples in assisted living facilities than previously thought, especially seniors.
According to Miami Jewish Health Systems’ Harris Poll, some 67 percent of those surveyed saying they would be somewhat to very comfortable living in a assisted living facility where openly gay couples live.
“When I saw that, I said, ‘That makes sense,’” said Dr. Brian Kiedrowski, chief medical officer at Miami Jewish Health System. “As you get into the autumn of your life, there tends to be different concerns that individuals have… what you see is that perhaps there's more of the all inclusiveness type of deal that I’ve seen.”
Miami Jewish Health Systems is an umbrella organization of independent and assisted living facilities as well as skilled nursing facilities. Despite the name and its origins, it is open to seniors of all religious backgrounds and has also been involved with the gay community. In the past, staff has participated in events with the LGBT Visitor’s Center in Miami Beach and after a story ran by SFGN about discrimination at assisted living facilities, the company reached out to the Pride Center in Wilton Manors for a partnership.
The kids coming up today, in another 20 years, it’s going to be a non-issue. All sorts of studies prove that for the future, but I was really pleasantly a big surprised to see that that’s the situation as we speak,” said Bruce Williams, seniors services coordinator at the Pride Center. Previously, he was the executive director of an assisted living facility.
In the previous article by SFGN, Williams said that he has encountered a lot of discrimination among management at various facilities in South Florida. However, this Harris Poll shows open-mindedness among current and future residents.
The study included Americans across the country and ages 18 up to 65 and older. Those living on the west coast and in the Midwest were the most accepting, with 69 percent saying they would be fine with openly gay couples. The South had the lowest, but only at 62 percent of respondents. As one would imagine, younger Americans were most accepting, but the lowest level of acceptance was 60 percent in Americans 65 and older.
“We’re not going to worry about who you’re sleeping with,” Kiedrowksi said. “We are trying to be very inclusive and open minded with things here at Miami Jewish.”
As does rounds through nursing homes and hospitals, he sees a sense of comradery with seniors. Some are all alone with no family to care for them, while others are flooded with visitors and have a partner.
“Individuals who have a support system are so lucky, so if they have a partner or a niece, I don’t see people getting labeled,” he said. “It’s really, ‘Boy, you’re lucky to have somebody that loves you… Florida is all walks of life have come together, especially in the Miami melting pot and we all have different support systems. Everybody is trying to do their best.”
Williams said that he has been speaking with the coordinator at Five Star Premier Residences in Hollywood, and she is excited at the prospect of launching an LGBT pilot program with the Pride Center. Williams was originally hesitant, worried that something so bold would be detrimental to her business.
“I sure would not want you to take a hit and all of a sudden have 50 people move out because they’re really irate over this. And of course her position is that she really doesn’t think that’s the case,” he said.