Openhouse and Caregiving Support
Openhouse helps San Francisco Bay Area lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults overcome unique challenges they face as they age. Openhouse provides housing assistance resources, direct services, and community programs. Openhouse also offers services to support caregivers in caregiving.
In San Francisco, Openhouse offers:
- the Caring Connections Friendly Visitor Program,
- Phone-A-Friend; Telephone Reassurance Program,
- Laguna Honda Hospital monthly visitors,
- caregiver support groups,
- grief & loss support groups,
- social services and other programs offered in the community.
In addition, Openhouse co-sponsors with Family Caregiver Alliance an online LGBT caregivers’ discussion group. These caregiver support and social service programs are available and free to all interested participants.
Openhouse Caring Connections: The Friendly Visitor Program
The Friendly Visitor Program is a volunteer support system which exists for the primary purpose of keeping LGBT older adults socially connected to the community. Social exchange is a vital link to mental health. The Friendly Visitor Program assists LGBT older adults in maintaining their own independence, while transmitting their own valuable knowledge and experience to the next generation. All Friendly Visitor volunteers undergo a character reference check, criminal background check, and attend monthly volunteer support groups, after participating in an all-day training and orientation. Trainings are generally scheduled quarterly, depending on interest. Community Volunteers are matched with community members age 60+ who are referred to the program by their case manager, social worker, Community members are all San Francisco residents. For more information contact Sylvia Vargas, Friendly Visitor Program Manager at 415-659-8123 or email her.
Openhouse Telephone Reassurance “Phone-A-Friend” Program
Trained volunteers make regular weekly telephone calls to LGBT older adults to check on their well-being and give LGBT older adults an opportunity to socialize over the phone. Relationships grow and can be nurturing for isolated LGBT older adults. The main purpose of the program is alleviating some of the concerns facing LGBT older adults who live alone, and help them to remain independent by providing community resources. Volunteers receive training in the program and attend monthly volunteer support groups. For more information contact Sylvia Vargas, Friendly Visitor Program Manager at 415-659-8123.
Openhouse and Family Caregiver Alliance’s LGBT Online Caregiver Discussion Group
LGBT Online Caregiver Discussion Group offers a place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender caregivers of older adults with chronic health concerns to discuss the unique issues of caring for a partner, family member, friend, and/or loved one. The LGBT Online Caregiver Discussion Group is a national online group, hosted by one of the Friendly Visitor volunteers from the Openhouse Caring Connections Program. Caregivers with basic computer access (emails) are welcomed and encouraged to participate in the discussion group. To subscribe to the group, click here. For more information contact Sylvia Vargas, Openhouse Friendly Visitor Program Manager at 415-659-8123.
Laguna Honda Hospital Monthly Visits with Openhouse
Once a month, on the second Thursday of the month, Friendly Visitors meet at Laguna Honda Hospital to visit LGBT residents. Laguna Honda Hospital is one of the largest, public, skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities in the country. The LGBT residents know that the visitors will bring the LGBT community with them, whether it’s to participate in an art project, listen to live music, or to play bingo. Eva Lilly, lead volunteer for the Kaleidoscope Program at the hospital says, “Providing company and cookies may be all we can do,but we know that the patients look to our visits to brighten their day and stay connected to the community.” For more information contact Fairley Parson at 415-296-8995 x304.
Share your experiences and stories with other LGBT community members caring for a loved one with dementia. This support group is the only group of its kind in Northern California and cosponsored by Openhouse and facilitated by the Alzheimer’s Association. Gain strength and support in sharing your challenges, your strategies, and your resilience with other LGBT caregivers. It meets on the 4th Wednesday of every month at Openhouse from 6-7:30pm. For more information, contact Fairley Parson at 415-296-8995 x304.
Openhouse Caregiver “Self-Care” Group
This group is a facilitated 10-week small group of LGBT individuals, age 60+, who wish to learn how to give comforting care to ourselves as caregivers in the midst of never ending change. We also learn to do the same for loved ones. The focus of the group is on savoring the time remaining, nurturing capacities for feeling love and support, and living more intentionally in the “now”. Discussion of personal issues as well as reflection on unending life changes is encouraged. This group is a resource for people wanting to increase self-care skills and is especially pertinent for caregivers. For more information contact Fairley Parson at 415-296-8995 x304.
Openhouse “Understanding Grief as a Human Process” Group
This group is a facilitated 10-week small group of LGBT individuals, age 60+, who meet to discuss loss and change in a comfortable and safe circle with others who are experiencing heartache in its many forms. Den Reno, Ph.D., facilitates the group which includes relaxation exercises, meditation, laughter and building trust. The group will work to create understanding and lead to a healing experience. For more information contact Fairley Parson at 415-296-8995 x304.