Three out of four LGBTI people say they wish there were more LGBTI-specific retirement homes and villages.
In a major survey conducted for the initial LGBTI Founders Day, conducted by Gay Star News in conjunction with Barclays, LGBTI people responded were asked: ‘What do you think is needed to support older LGBTI people?’.
Over 2,300 respondents, both pre- and post-retirement, gave their views.
Just over 77% of those surveyed rated ‘More LGBTI nursing home and retirement homes’ a ‘Pretty Good’ or ‘Love it’ idea. The majority (58%), loved it. A small number (just under 4%) thought it a ‘horrible idea’, while others split between ‘Needs more thought’ or simply ‘OK’.
Other concepts that found approval included:
- More meet-up groups for older LGBTI people (an idea 66% of people loved or thought was ‘pretty good’).
- A campaign to end ageism (welcomed by 62%)
- An online older LGBTI center, allowing people to chat and support each other around the world (again, just over 6 out of ten welcomed this).
Other key findings in the survey go some way to explaining the desire for more nursing homes or retirement villages. Just under 70% of pre-retirement LGBTI people fear failing health or illness as they age, with 56% fearing ‘loneliness/isolation’ as they get older.
Currently, despite the clear desire for more LGBTI nursing homes or retirement villages, they remain a rarity. Instead, older LGBTI people relocate to nursing homes that are ill-equipped to meet their needs or acknowledge their identities.
‘Skilled nursing specifically for LGBTI folks is super needed,’ said one survey respondent. ‘Also assisted living facilities.’
‘I love the LGBTI Nursing Homes idea,’ commented another. ‘But it would need to be affordable, and that’s the issue. My husband and I aren’t made of money, so we’d need a Nursing Home that could accommodate more moderate incomes.’
Touching upon the subject at the inaugural LGBT Founders Day event, hosted by Gay Star News at Barclays headquarters in London on Monday night, leading LGBTI activist Jason Jones said, ‘Care homes are equally as important as a [gay] club or bar.’
See how young people react when they talk about the idea of an LGBTI nursing home on a first date:
Pride in care
There is currently no dedicated LGBTI nursing home in the UK. Earlier this year, Opening Doors – a charity supporting LGBTI people aged 50+ launched a Pride in Care quality standard scheme.
The initiative was launched to help elders identify service providers that are aware of the challenges facing LGBTI seniors.
In the US, there are a growing number of retirement villages or complexes aimed at LGBTI 55+. Some reserve a number of units specifically for those with HIV or threatened with homelessness.
Town Hall Apartments in Chicago is one such development. Nestled next to Chicago’s extensive LGBT center, Town Hall has 79 in-demand apartments. It opened in 2014. Its waitlist re-opened in January 2018 and currently has 210 applicants. On average, it offers new leases to 8-10 apartments/year.
‘I am not at all surprised by the survey results,’ Town Hall Property Manager, David James, told GSN. ‘As our LGBTI population ages, the options for safe inclusive elderly communities are few to none in most cities.
‘Often people who have been “out” for most of their lives are forced to return to the closet when entering these communities due to harassment and safety concerns.’
When asked what he perceived to be the main benefits of such communities and complexes, he identified ‘safety and inclusion’. Town Hall’s close proximity to The Center on Halsted also made it very attractive to prospective residents. The LGBTI center offers a range of supportive services to Town Hall occupants.