CAMP Rehoboth Publishes a Senior LGBTQ Sussex County Health and Wellness Needs Assessment Study
With the support of a Grant-In-Aid from the State of Delaware General Assembly, CAMP Rehoboth undertook a study to gather information about the health and wellness needs of the growing senior (50 years and above) LGBTQ population living in Sussex County, Delaware. The report focuses on the findings uncovered through a Survey Monkey questionnaire returned by 288 people, a focus group of 16 individuals, and a report from the Peer Leader of CAMP Rehoboth’s Trans-Talk and TransParent discussion and support groups.
An independent consultant analyzed the survey data and prepared tables showing numbers of responses to questions and percentages across age groups (50-59, 60-69, 70 and above). The majority of respondents were white, non-Hispanic, retired, married or partnered LGBTQ. Members of the Health Committee considered the data from the three age group sources, determined major findings, and authored the report.
Findings from the report will be used as discussion tools through three community forums to take place in the fall of 2016 and winter of 2017. The goal is to work together with other organizations and community members to make important changes that will increase the health and wellness benefits of the senior LGBTQ population in Sussex County, Delaware. Full reports and analysis tables are available upon request from Sal Seeley, the Director of Health and Wellness Programs at CAMP Rehoboth, and all are welcome to attend the first community forum on December 13, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. at CAMP Rehoboth.
A sampling of major findings disclosed:
While respondents want their physicians and specialists to be LGBTQ friendly, they want high-quality health care even more and perceive that as lacking in Sussex County. “There’s a big lack of doctors overall. I can’t find one taking new patients” was commented by many respondents.
Respondents will and do travel out of state to find what they consider to be high-quality healthcare (both general practice and specialists).
Almost half of respondents struggle with mental health issues as they age. Depression, loneliness, and lack of sufficient finances to see them through their retirement were cited as major stressors as they age. “It is impossible to get a referral for a psychiatrist taking new patients” was a common thread.
65% of respondents have had one or more of the physical health concerns listed in the survey. High blood pressure was reported as the Number One physical health concern for which 40% of respondents indicated they’ve sought treatment over the past two years. (see Table 1).
Half of those who sought treatment for physical ailments listed in the survey used their primary care physician for treatment, and one-third sought secondary care from specialists.
Hurdles to healthcare included the inability to conveniently get an appointment (32%), the overall perceived poor quality of healthcare providers in Sussex County (24%), and the inability to easily or conveniently see specialty physicians.
While half of respondents have struggled with mental health issues, 46% of respondents have not sought treatment within the past two years for the listed mental health issues (see Table 3).
When asked why they did not seek professional services for mental health issues, some stated a lack of locally available help, lack of appropriate professional help that accepted their insurance, and difficulty getting a “timely appointment.”
Some respondents who did seek mental health treatment wrote, “I just wanted to talk to someone about it.” Another wrote, “I sought professional help because I was unhappy with my life.” Of those who sought treatment for mental health issues, 23% utilized their primary care physician for assistance, and 13% sought secondary care from specialists.
While only 1% of survey respondents identified as transgender, Trans-Talk and Trans-Parent focus groups cited major health concerns that included the lack of insurance companies in Sussex County that cover gender conforming surgeries (or consider them “elective surgeries”) and the lack of insurance companies that cover hormone blockers for pubescent developing transgender adolescents.
Plans for moving the report out into the community include three community forums to be held at CAMP Rehoboth in 2016 and 2017. The expected outcome of the forums is that other community members and organizations will plan collaboratively with CAMP Rehoboth to bring about some of the needed changes identified in the study. CAMP Rehoboth will also use the study findings to develop additional social and health groups and determine additional ways to support LGBTQ seniors living in Sussex County.
CAMP Rehoboth thanks all of its members who participated in the survey and focus group.