Posted by Rachel Bashford
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The latest data (2019) from the ONS (Office of National Statistics) reported that an estimated 2.7% of the UK population aged 16 and over identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual in 2019, showing a rise from 2.2% in 2018.
Interestingly, the study also revealed that, for the first time in reported statistics, there had been an increase in the number of over-65s identifying as LGB, up from 0.7% of this age category in 2018 to 1.0% in 2019.
Noting the changes in societal attitudes, the ONS explains the data change as being influenced by a greater acceptance in society towards people expressing different sexual identities.
In truth, these altering attitudes are beginning to filter into housing options, in particular retirement living opportunities. This year marks a milestone in advancements in the creation of housing to suit personal choice in the UK.
Tonic Housing, in collaboration with the Mayor of London, acquired a building in central London to create the UK’s ‘first’ LGBT retirement living apartment complex, called Bankhouse in Vauxhall.
Tonic Housing describes the community as a ‘LGBT+ affirming’ complex with a ‘unique offering of housing with care’ that celebrates ‘LGBT+ identities with the community’ at the heart of project. The company states that it intends to supply activities chosen by the residents in line with their interests and the offer of on-site care and support packages
For many, a recent national survey (2018) by the Government’s Equalities Office outlined the challenges that some LGBT+ people experience within UK society. A significant portion of respondents suggested they were reluctant to state their sexual identities when entering care homes to live. This has prompted the call for greater accommodation of personalised living choices for older people.
In another step forward for Londoners, L&Q are working alongside the community scheme London Older Lesbian Co-housing (COLC) to develop the UK’s first co-housing scheme for older residents in the LGBT+ community, created and run by its residents.
This won’t be an alternative to a care home, rather a shared housing community. There will be separate apartments with a shared garden, dining room, kitchen and social space.
LOLC’s Amanda Girling-Budd clarified their vision as “supporting each other to have the best rest of our lives.”
Outside the capital, there have also been steps forward in LGBT retirement living. A landmark report by the LGBT Foundation found that around 74% of respondents want to be able to choose a home for their later years that catered for their needs and lifestyle, supplied by a specific LGBT provider.
In a recent statement, Anchor Hanover have announced that they will build the UK’s ‘first purpose-built LGBT+ extra care housing’ for older people in the Whalley Range area. The plan is to create 100 apartments for over-55s with a combination of affordable rental and shared ownership opportunities.
Manchester Council’s lead member for adult health and wellbeing, Councillor Bev Craig commented, “We already know LGBT+ people are more likely to be lonely later in life, and as this community is growing, it shows that this extra care is not only welcome but absolutely needed.”
With the target of Winter 2021/2022 for submitting the first planning application, Anchor Hanover are working in conjunction with Manchester City Council and The Community Steering Group to ensure accountability and the consideration of all invested parties.
In truth, Anchor Hanover have experience in this area of development as the company already have New Larchwood near Brighton as part of their retirement living consortium. The retirement village is described as ‘LGBT+ inclusive and therefore very welcoming of diversity.’
The estate consists of 38 one/two bed extra care apartments with a range of on-site facilities, such as a cinema, hair salon, restaurant and community café.
These existing communities and planned proposals for more retirement accommodation for LGBT+ seniors are major advancements in the landscape of flexible and personalised living choices for older people. However, do these compare to the options available in other countries for LGBT+ communities?
It’s true to say that other countries are a little ahead of us in terms of providing quality retirement living for LGBT+ seniors. There are a whole range of different communities established in the USA with varying levels of care and support provided.
It’s interesting to note that many LGBT+ over-65s find living in LGBT+ aware retirement communities to be beneficial, not only in terms of feeling secure with their lifestyle choices, but also socially with all the positive advantages of being part of a community. In this YouTube video, an LGBT+ American senior explores the plus points of this type of living.
Renowned as the ‘oldest’ lesbian and gay retirement village in America, The Palms of Manasota in Tampa Bay, Florida has been welcoming LGBT+ seniors as residents for years to live in 21 individual homes as part of a wider, safe community.
Many LGBT+ seniors feel vulnerable in openly acknowledging their lifestyle choices when entering retirement homes. The Spirit on Lake complex in Minneapolis opened in 2014 and consists of 46 homes within an urban setting, offering a safe environment for everyone enhanced by a metropolitan lifestyle in the heart of a big city.
European countries are also beginning to open LGBT+ retirement living complexes. One such example is the Regnbagen or Rainbow House, in Stockholm, Sweden.
Rainbow House offers homes to 34 LGBT+ senior residents in the heart of the city, inclusive of a gym, library, roof terrace and garden to accentuate social contact and support for its residents. This is at a reduced rental cost in comparison to other homes in Stockholm, so that LGBT+ residents are able to access affordable senior housing and support.
Spain’s first LGBT retirement community is set to open soon, after many years of planning by Frederico Armenteros Avila. Avila set up a foundation to turn an abandoned building in Madrid into a safe LGBT+ retirement housing complex to help LGBT+ Spanish seniors feel secure and nurtured into their old age, with funding from Madrid’s regional government.
LGBT+ people of all ages suffered under Franco’s regime until 1979, as any sexual lifestyle choice other than heterosexuality was illegal. Therefore, the infrastructure to support LGBT+ people, in particular the over-65s, has not been evident in Spanish society. Avila has set out to change that with his LGBT+ friendly retirement complex.
Take a look inside Avila’s journey in this quick video below.
It appears that, for many countries, they are at the start of the process of providing enough quality care and support for older LGBT+ people, who are looking for safe, enriched and sociable retirement living options for their senior years.
It’s clear that today, populations are becoming more diverse and as such LGBT+ seniors require structures, policies and processes in place to ensure they have equal and safe access to housing. As recent studies suggest, this should suit their life choices and include care or support packages in situ if they want access to these at any point.
In 2019, the PinkNews Ageing Summit gathered together invested parties who wanted to contribute to an increased awareness of the challenges faced by older LGBT+ people. Many are more isolated than other groups in society and often have worse access to services, such as housing or health advice.
Constructing proper support for different groups is becoming ever more important. For some LGBT+ people, this may mean more flexible access to co-housing communities or better advice and ability to enter LGBT+ friendly retirement living.
Through a 2019 study by the Centre for Ageing Better, LGBT+ groups were able to voice the shape they wanted their future years to take. With stakeholders beginning to respond in practical and useful ways, such as Retirement Living companies and city councils, the future for LGBT+ people may mean specific retirement housing becoming more available to maximise their retirement years.
Growing numbers of people are turning to Autumna for support and information when they want to find out more about retirement communities. Older people and their families are searching for reliable advice about what to look for and how to secure the best possible future retirement home.
One simple way to start researching retirement living is with the easy to use Autumna search tools that help people to find what they are looking for. There is plenty of detail about each retirement community and what it has to offer.
Autumna has almost become a one-stop-shop for people interested in discovering more about retirement living. It covers all aspects of the market, from luxury retirement villages to more cost-effective choices. The directory clearly summarises the key features of each retirement development, and the lifestyle on offer.
If you’re searching for retirement homes, Autumna does the hard work in refining your choices and giving you the best, most relevant information.
You can either search through the easy-to-navigate, easy-to-compare directory yourself or get help from a real person. Just send an email request or book a free call back at a time that is convenient for you.
Autumna has gathered detailed information from a wide variety of sources, and consolidated it into a rich information resource that will help you, quickly and easily, find exactly what you need, when you need it.
And if you’re not sure what you need, this quick presentation by Autumna’s founder, Debbie Harris will give you some useful pointers.
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