LGBT-focused later-life housing community research project for Tonic Housing

Overview

Tonic Housing is an organisation dedicated to developing appropriate later-life services for the LGBT community. Tonic has identified that members of the LGBT community can be more likely to be single and live alone, and are therefore much more dependent on external services as they get older. Added to this, many of them have experienced isolation and prejudice throughout much of their adult lives, whether within their family, the workplace, or the communities where they live, reinforcing that sense of “outsider status” felt when accessing care or support services. To meet this need, Tonic is looking to establish a LGBT-focused later-life housing community, launching a pilot project with a view to a wider roll-out of services in the future.

Objectives

Tonic recognised a need for evidence to identify the key issues impacting the older LGBT community, to be able to gauge interest in establishing a housing development, what might appeal about the project, and what reservations potential residents might have.

Approach

Tonic has already conducted substantial qualitative research, and a range of anecdotal feedback from LGBT community members, but they lacked robust data and evidence to be able to strategically design residential services. To meet these aims, IFF Research was appointed to conduct over 500 online interviews with LGBT consumers aged over 50 years old. Participants came from across the UK, and identified themselves as non-heterosexual.

Findings

The research showed that the appeal of LGBT-focused residency for later life became more appealing the closer that participants got to retirement. It had particular appeal to those who are separated, single or living alone, who are most likely to feel isolated and concerned about making friends in later life. The key appeal of an LGBT+ community is in providing a space where tenants can be open about their life experiences, and also have fun amongst likeminded people. Social aspects of the community have greater appeal than security aspects, and the core concern about the community is associated with the cost of residency, as well as the desire for many respondents to stay in their own homes and retain their independence for as long as possible.

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