345 Welcoming Signals

Research by Croghan, C. F., Moone, R. P., & Olson, A. M. (2015).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S. 

What is meant by being “culturally competent” when working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (i.e., LGBT) older adults?  Being understanding and sensitive to needs and not giving negative signals when interacting or providing services is being culturally competent.

Awareness and acceptance of everyone is important to interacting or providing welcoming services to others. Psychologist Andrea Olson and colleagues assessed how important acceptance is and what LGBT older adults consider welcoming. Over 300 older LGBT participants completed questionnaires about what signals they would consider to be LGBT-welcoming.

The results? There are many welcoming LGBT signals. These included staff’s understanding the concept of a partner, including the acceptance of the other’s significant other. Body language and reactions reveal feelings, attitudes and prejudices. Not assuming an individual is heterosexual is welcoming. LGBT friendly visual cues or signals such as rainbow flags, posted inclusive statements, marketing shows LGBT clients, and knowledgeable staff members are welcoming, reducing the LBGT person’s feeling discriminated. Perceiving negative evaluation leads to their not wanting to access health care, or other services.

These behaviors and cues are important for service providers and us all to ensure that every member of our community feels welcomed! Build Bridges not barriers!


Croghan, C. F., Moone, R. P., & Olson, A. M. (2015). Working with LGBT baby boomers and older               adults: Factors that signal a welcoming service environment. Journal of Gerontological   Social Work, 58(6), 637-951.

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