BATON ROUGE, La. — A dispute over a bingo game at a Baton Rouge senior center has led state officials to suggest the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging should implement sensitivity training for its staff.
The Advocate reports the controversy stems from an incident May 2 in which four women complained about being denied an opportunity to play bingo at Dumas House Senior Center, as they had done every Thursday for more than a year.
They say they were told they could not play because they had not attended programs at least three times that week.
The complaint, submitted by the daughter-in-law of one of the women, charged the four were subjected to public humiliation.
Karen Ryder, deputy assistant secretary at the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs, termed the event a "miscommunication."
"It was just a misunderstanding, and their feelings were hurt," Ryder said.
In a response letter from the Office of Elderly Affairs, program monitor Linda Ward advised officials with the Council on Aging that there was no evidence of "intent to publicly humiliate, discriminate, single out, or interject mental anguish on the group of ladies involved."
Nevertheless, the Office of Elderly Affairs recommended the COA develop diversity training to integrate skills of working with different cultures.
COA Director Tasha Clark-Amar said the agency already conducts training for employees but said Dumas House presents special problems.
"The thing is at Dumas House, there's a residence there," she said.
Clark-Amar said it is the only senior center managed by the COA that has a residence. She said 64 seniors live there.
Many of the residents are low-income, she said, and there have occasionally been conflicts when more affluent seniors attend programs at Dumas House.
"This socio-economic divide at times causes hurt feelings among the seniors and conflicts arise," Clark-Amar said.