Today we’re talking to Sadiya Abjani, Director of Learning & Equity at SAGE, the world’s largest and oldest organization focused on advocacy and services for LGBT elders. SAGECare, SAGE’s cultural competency training and credentialing program, provides training and consulting services to elder care providers. SAGECare also offers the added benefit of providing qualifying agencies with a national accreditation to highlight the percentage of trained staff.

Sadiya was kind enough to answer some questions about SAGECare and its training program.

Why should your organization hold LGBT trainings?

“There are many reasons why LGBT training courses are incredibly important for elder care providers,” says Sadiya. “The SAGECare mission is in line with that of elder care communities, to make sure LGBT people are taken care of, that elders are aging with grace.”

“There are many community members that have experienced a great deal of violence and discrimination, and some of that discrimination comes at the hands of medical professionals,” she continues. “Up until 1973, homosexuality was a diagnosable medical condition. An individual could lose everything after that diagnosis. That stigma and fear doesn’t go away. Decades of lack of access to treatment, and mistreatment, are causing people to fear accessing care. Folks are delaying care because they don’t think healthcare providers will treat them with dignity and respect. There is a deep feeling of ‘I won’t feel safe.’ SAGECare training will walk you through preparing for and working through all of that with your clients.”

Although the primary mission in these trainings isn’t monetary, there is a financial component, explains Sadiya. “Boomer consumers are values-based consumers. It’s a huge market and it’s constantly growing. In the under-40 segment, the percentages of LGBT population are even higher,” she says. “Over the next 20–25 years, that market will grow even more. It’s better to do that work early and set your company up for success in the long run.”

What are some of the benefits of getting the SAGECare credential?

“The biggest benefit is that SAGECare is the oldest and largest national credential,” Sadiya says. “Elders reach out to us for care, services and information. Getting the credential on an organization’s website becomes incredibly useful. Folks are also going to our website and are searching for credentialed providers in their area. SAGECare provides that repository of physicians who have been trained to take care of LGBT elders.”

Can you talk about your background and why you work at SAGE?

“I have been in the social justice field for my entire adult life,” says Sadiya. “Previously, I developed training curriculum around fair housing, disability justice, and immigrant rights, and worked on issues related to the shelter systems. While doing this work, I was connected with SAGE through a toolkit I built for a study they had just done about housing discrimination. I started doing trainings for SAGE, and I fell in love with the people that work here and the organization. I saw a job opening and I applied, and it changed my life. I’ve worked here for six years. I love the individuals I get to work with. I learn and I grow every single day. Our mission is to ensure that those individuals who struggled and fought and sacrificed so much for dignity, for justice — those individuals who have paved the way for me to live my identity — get the best care. And it’s not just for them. All of us age. I’m working for a better future, so that I can live my identity out loud. I want to age safely; I want to have good care. This mission resonates with me in many ways.”

What is the most important thing we need to know about LGBT training?

“The most important thing is that this community exists, they are aging, and they are not being cared for in the way that they need,” says Sadiya. “This training sets you up to do your job well for this population.”

In part II of this series, we’ll cover nine truths you need to know about LGBT training. Click here to read the post.

For more information or if you’d like to schedule a training for your organization, email sabjani@sageusa.org.