Loneliness: Shared Lives and CoLiving

This is the final part in a series looking at loneliness - track back through our diary for previous entries

Picture Credit:  Boudewijn Bollmann

Picture Credit: Boudewijn Bollmann

In a care home just outside Amsterdam six students live rent free

In return, they agree to spend at least 30 hours a month socialising with the older residents.

This isn't a care home where you just sit around staring at the TV with a weekly bingo night. “You have to try to throw a white ping pong ball into the beer, and then you have to drink it,” 84 year old Annie Middelburg says about the ‘beer pong’ drinking game she’s just learnt. They also play cards, talk about sex and do the normal things we all do.

Amsterdam was short of 9,000 student rooms in 2014, while the Dutch government cut care funding for people over 80. Combining the two problems creates an opportunity.

As part of our final test - we want to look into how this might work in a housing context.

People living on their own, often with excess space, and people looking for a home or a flatmate.
How can we combine them?

Last week we were speaking with one of the UK experts on this subject - Alex Fox of Shared Lives Plus. 

Alex talked to us about home sharing - which is when an older person offers accommodation to a someone at a reduced rate in exchange for some support with basic tasks such as shopping or gardening. Although this has yet to make a significant mark on the UK housing landscape - it's a growing option for people.

We also talked about the impact of future welfare changes - where we could see lots of people genuinely unable to afford to live on their own.  How can the lessons learned from schemes like Shared Lives be applied here?

  • What if we could reimagine shared accommodation as a genuinely attractive proposition?
  • What if we actually encouraged people to move in with someone of similar interests?
  • What if we could create the best of both worlds - you have roommates - but they are not roommates?

We'll be talking more about this in the coming weeks - and seeing how we could practically test out customer appetite for this.