Caroline Cooke, director at CIC Share and Care Homeshare, describes the valuable contributions that both younger and older people bring to intergenerational living arrangements… and the reciprocal benefits.
Intergenerational living, in the form of homeshare, has been around for more than 40 years in this country. And whilst there is much focus, and quite rightly so, on the incredible impact it has on older people, it is very much a mutually beneficial arrangement: a factor that perhaps deserves greater recognition than it currently receives.
Homeshare brings people together in a purposeful, meaningful and mutually beneficial way. Essentially, it brings different generations together in a living arrangement in which both younger and older people make a valuable contribution. By changing the narrative, we can reflect the true situation. It’s not simply the younger generation giving help to the older generation, it’s not a one-way process; it’s a circle of support which manifests in different ways.
In our experience, it’s incredibly rewarding to see that everyone contributes, regardless of age. Share and Care Homeshare has facilitated hundreds of matches over the years, and we have seen first-hand the inclusivity of homeshare: younger generations and older generations alike have a wealth of valuable resource (for use of a better word!) to offer each other.
Many of our wonderful matches have caught the eye of the media, and these stories shine a spotlight on the personal impact of sharing a home across generations, and talk about a range of benefits. From the practical elements such as the lower costs of accommodation for younger people, to the life-line that older people feel they receive from having support with cooking dinner or keeping the house tidy; but what really stands out is the incredible friendships that are created and the difference this makes to people’s lives.
Strong, respectful connections are formed which have positively impacted the mental health and wellbeing of many.
We see self-esteem and confidence grow through intergenerational interactions, and people learning new skills or taking up new activities like painting or cooking, sometimes together. Forging intergenerational relationships also improves empathy and understanding and helps tackle any stereotypes or misconceptions on both sides – there is much to learn.
Furthermore, we notice increased involvement in the local community as younger and older people share activities together, from a walk around the nearby park, to a lunch in town, and so on.
We witness new friendship groups form too. For instance, it’s not unusual for our sharers to have some level of interaction with their householder’s older friendship groups as well as their families. Equally, the sharers often introduce people from their circle of friends and family.
It’s important to talk about homeshare more and through celebrating the shared benefits, we hope it will inspire more people, regardless of age, to step forward and join the homeshare conversation.
Community Interest Company (CIC), Share and Care Homeshare, is the largest and most experienced provider in the UK and offers a bespoke nationwide service.