Homeshare: an alternative for independent living
For many people, remaining in their home as they grow older doesn’t seem like a viable option, but initiatives such as homeshare can provide a cost-effective and practical solution.
In this guest blog, Caroline Cooke, Director at Share and Care Homeshare, explores the benefits of homeshare in enabling people to remain active and independent in their own homes.
Adults in later life who require care and support are often signposted to traditional models such as residential accommodation. Yet for many this is an unwanted and unnecessary choice. Evidence shows that most people wish to remain in their own homes as they age – 81% of homeowners aged 65 and over wish to continue living where they are. And indeed, most older adults do continue to live in mainstream housing with only 10% of moves made by people aged 50 and over into specialist housing and 24% of people aged 70 and over. But as we age we are more likely to experience mobility or visual impairment issues that make daily practical activities such as cooking, shopping and gardening a challenge – 22% of adults aged 65-69 need help with one or more activity of daily living, rising to 56% of people in their 80s – and subsequently may need some support. Homeshare is just one solution for alternative care in later life.
Homeshare is the idea that a householder provides accommodation in their home to the sharer in an exchange for their time and help. It can offer an economical alternative to residential care or live-in carers, can be paid for out of the Attendance Allowance and can sit alongside other support services and care packages – research by SCIE found that £3,240 was saved on household tasks during the period of a nine-month homeshare.
Aside from financial incentives there are social benefits of homeshares, especially for those living alone. According to Age UK more than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member. And while you can experience loneliness at any stage of your life, older adults are particularly vulnerable to social isolation due to the increased likelihood of various trigger factors such as ill-health, retirement, deaths of spouses and friends and living alone. Approximately 50% of individuals aged over 60 are at risk of social isolation and one-third will experience some degree of loneliness later in life. Homeshare can also increase confidence, for instance through sharing a common interest such as gardening or the arts, learning new skills and can reduce ageism through sharing different perspectives and insights across generations. Homeshare also provide a feeling of safety and security by having someone else in the home.
While interest dipped at the beginning of last year due to fears over the coronavirus, it has bounced back with Share and Care matches up 40% in 2020. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of our homes for our health, wellbeing and social connections. Homeshare can offer an alternative safe, cost-effective and essential support option for those in later life who wish to remain independent in their homes.
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 visit www.shareandcare.co.uk.