Like many people I was thinking about what I’d do with £160m if I’d won the Euro lottery. I would set up a retirement complex for the gay community (after the Landrover, house by the sea and all the other things I seem to think are important).
I can’t imagine anybody looks forward to moving into a retirement home. My grandfather wasn’t keen but when he was there enjoyed the food and being looked after. But there was so little to do – no mental stimulation or breaks from routine. A lot of the time the residents would speak warmly about the children and grandchildren and their married lives.
I suspect this is a really isolating environment for a gay man or woman – particularly if you’ve led an active gay lifestyle. You are suddenly thrust into this very heterosexual environment where you have no shared experience to talk about.
An exclusively gay environment, or at least one which has a number of gay residents, would allow gay people to talk about their experiences and be able to relate to each other. This might seem odd and very much about segregated communities but it shouldn’t be. It’s about ending your days with people with a similar outlook and history.
A gay retirement home has opened in Berlin. The model I would prefer would be a social enterprise where profits provide funding support for those unable to afford to live there. I would base it in Brighton – by the sea and diverse gay community, encouraging residents to make the most of all the town has to offer whilst they still can. There would also be a number of community groups in the area that could get involved.
My plan fails due to lack of money and of any experience of residential care management. Apart from that it’ll be easy. But the way we treat the elderly is often appalling and as most of us will end up having some form of care, I may as well show an interest in the form that care should take.