Share and Care Homeshare matches younger people who need a room with elderly people who need help around the house and creators say it could address care crisis
Image: TIM ANDERSON)
A heartwarming initiative that pairs elderly homeowners with younger housemates could help solve the UK’s care crisis, its creators say.
Share and Care Homeshare matches people who need a room with those who need help around the house, for £150 a month each.
It helps older clients maintain independence and avoid moving into a residential home or relying on private carers – while younger sharers avoid soaring rent costs.
Share and Care Homeshare has matched hundreds of people since 2006, and currently has 76 pairs living together across the UK.
Inquiries rocketed by a third after Covid lockdowns heightened loneliness in many people.
Director Amanda Clarke said: “Clients say it’s been a lifesaver, because they can remain independently in their home with a very low-cost level of support.
“They benefit greatly from small things – a freshly cooked meal, company…
“Our sharers don’t lift clients or provide personal care like carers – they are volunteers who want to do good with the added benefit of this being a low-cost way to have a home.
“It’s not just alleviating loneliness for older people, it’s helping younger generations who are lonely too.”
Both parties pay £150 to the community interest company. It vets applicants to ensure they are suitable and pairs people based on their lifestyle and personality.
In exchange for a room, the sharer agrees to act as a companion and help around the house for 15 to 25 hours a week.
Ms Clarke is in talks with government advisers about incorporating the concept into reforms.
She added: “I’ve always said that with social care, you have to think outside the box. I truly believe inter-generational living is the future.”
She’s always there for me
An age gap of 36 years has not stopped Johanna Lundstrom and homeowner Iris Beale becoming firm friends.
Retired headteacher Iris, 92, said: “We are different in many ways but we both love jigsaw puzzles, plants and gardening. I have a big garden and she looks after it beautifully.
“It’s companionship, really. She’s always there when I need her.
“I’m not really in good health – I have arthritis so can’t walk without aid and I have a heart condition – but Johanna is very caring.”
Staying with Iris at her four-bed home in Wandsworth, South London, has enabled Swedish songwriter Johanna, 56, to live in the capital while pursuing a music career.
She said: “Without this, I would need to get another job, work all the hours and live hand-to-mouth, stressed out all the time. This arrangement allows me to concentrate on my music, and it’s a lovely idea.”
Iris had relied on live-in carers since 2016 but felt she was losing her independence. After contacting Homeshare, Johanna moved in days before the lockdown.
Iris added: “It was difficult at first – I couldn’t go out and she had to settle in. But every day we had social time, over a meal or just chatting for a few minutes.”
Luciana is dementia gran’s lifeline
Sharing her home has enabled Flo Taylor to remain there, despite suffering from dementia.
The 84-year-old had lived alone since her husband Stuart died four years ago.
Flo wanted to continue living independently but would sometimes forget to take her medication, her daughter Katie said.
After Katie, who lives in Somerset, contacted Share and Care Homeshare, Luciana Canu, 42, moved into Flo’s home in Balham, south-west London, in February 2020. Mother-of-two Katie said: “The joy of this is that if you’re old, you might not need care but just someone to nudge life along – and Luciana has great humanity.
“It’s having somebody in the house to watch that the fridge is full, that there’s milk, to ask, ‘Have you eaten?’ She is my eyes and ears.
“It’s a real enabler for Mum to remain in familiar surroundings and it has completely helped with loneliness.”
Luciana moved to the UK seven years ago from her home on the Italian island of Sardinia, but she struggled to cover the £700-a-month cost of a shared flat. The graphic design student, who works in the hospitality industry, said: “Without Flo, I would have spent lockdown alone in a room paying £700 and only getting 80% of my salary on furlough, feeling depressed.”
During lockdown, the pair spent time litter-picking and watching television.
And gran-of-four Flo helped Luciana improve her English and showed her how to make her own mince pies.
Luciana said: “It was challenging at the beginning but I learned to help her, remind her to take the pills and have lunch or drink water.
“We are different, but have a lot in common. It’s not about age… she she’s really funny and very smart.