Discussion has emerged regarding Tonic Housing’s plan to build a care home for older LGBT folk; is it necessary? Is it not?
It’s great that Tonic has addressed the need for safe spaces for older LGBT people and is actively focusing on providing ‘a fresh approach to LGBT older living’.
While we hope that older LGBT people wouldn’t need segregated spaces, we know from our 2011 study with Co-Operative Funeral Care that older LGB people disproportionately suffer from loneliness and isolation and that half of LGB people over 55 would feel uncomfortable coming out in a mainstream care home.
Our recent health report Unhealthy Attitudes (2015) also shows that a large proportion of healthcare staff are not confidently equipped with the necessary skills to provide thorough care for LGBT people, elderly or otherwise.
With this in mind, it’s crucial to provide solutions while simultaneously tackling the problem. Tonic Housing appear to be considering potential deficits in mainstream care homes and ensuring they are catered for by providing a safe and inclusive social space as well as a residential one. Tonic has also suggested that their caring staff will also receive training on the specific needs of LGBT people.
Residency in an LGBT-specific care home won’t be a reality for all LGBT people, and it’s important to remember that there’s a lot to do in mainstream facilities.
We want to see improvements to the current care provided in care homes for LGBT people.
We hope that our continued work with health and social care providers will ensure that there will soon be no need for older people living in mainstream care homes to feel that they are obliged to hide who they are, or to feel that they aren’t being their authentic selves.
Our goal is that LGBT folk of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, economic circumstances, and faiths regardless of where they live, are safe, cared for and accepted without exception.