Why we should be looking at alternative housing options for older people

Homeshare arrangements not only support wellbeing, relieve pressure on overstretched health services they support mental health and isolation. Amanda Clarke makes a compelling case for why we need more Homeshare and particularly for older people who were severely impacted by the pandemic in England. 

We need  to end the  cycle of directing older people regardless of what care they actually require to care homes; often it’s during a crisis that the decision gets forced and that’s where  people typically go.  Instead let’s adopt non-traditional models of care such as preventative options to encourage independence, or rather interdependence. 

Affordable and effective support

There's now an urgency to support different, sustainable models of support and particularly if we are to drive recovery from the pandemic and relieve pressure on health and social care services. This would bring much needed efficiencies and cost-savings to an already stretched system. For example, research by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) identified that homeshare could lead to significant cost savings of more than £18,000 per arrangement over a 9 month period through reduced use of A & E. There would be no requirement for hospital admission because there is someone at home, reduced use of respite day services for help with household tasks, and reduced use of community mental health and other social care or GP services.

Homeshare arrangements, perhaps not as widely recognised as other choices even though they have been in operation in this country since the 1980s, are highly effective routes to facilitate supported living within the local community.  Homeshare schemes, which are registered as charities, community interest companies or local authorities, have strong credentials and fit within the ‘alternative solutions’ banner.    It matches older people who want to live in their own home, with younger people who are looking for an affordable place to live in a home environment and are happy to provide 15 hours of practical help a week (with tasks such as housework, shopping, and cooking) and companionship in return. 

Community-based living has multiple advantages

Across the generations loneliness and isolation increased greatly throughout the pandemic, initiatives that encourage community-based living strengthen mental health and wellbeing which in turn reduces the strain on over-burdened health and social care provision.  In fact, we often hear from older people about how homesharing has given them a new zest for life.  Iris and Johanna for instance were matched in early 2020, and Iris says it has changed her life; “Having Johanna around has made me feel secure, happy and to feel that I can go on enjoying life.  Johanna sees things that need doing and gets on with them – and it’s so nice to have my spare room being used!”

Creating more diverse options in communities

As new ideas filter through to overcome these existing challenges, alternative models of support for our ageing population will continue to deliver improved outcomes for older people and transform lives, now and in the future.  Let’s open up the choices and ensure they are accessible for everyone, let’s create more diverse options within local communities and focus on the needs of people in order to truly support independent living and reflect changing times.

Community Interest Company (CIC), Share and Care Homeshare, is the largest and most experienced provider in the UK and offers a bespoke nationwide service.  For further information contact 020 3865 3398, email info@shareandcare.co.uk, and visit www.shareandcare.co.uk or find us on Twitter @ShareandCareOrg

Share and Care is a member of the UK Homeshare network


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