For many older people, writes Justin Dewhirst of Two Generations, one of their most important wishes is to live in their own home for as long as possible. Sharing their home with a younger person is one way to do just that.
The home is a place of comfort. And along with all the memories it holds, remaining there often means we can stay connected to our community – whether that be family, friends, neighbours, activity and faith groups, or even a familiar doctor.
However, for some older people, particularly those who live alone, remaining at home can start to become a bit more challenging. They no longer feel quite as independent as they once were… perhaps a little unsteady on their feet… or their memory is starting to show some decline. But maybe not to the point where they need, or perhaps want, to look at care options: whether that’s residential or full time in-house care (which, for most, is prohibitively expensive anyway).
For some, the challenge is just knowing that they are somewhat isolated: they may be single or widowed; they may not have family as close as they would like, or with the time to visit or provide as much support as would be ideal.
Some older people may just be quite fearful living on their own. They may have lost confidence, perhaps even more so during Covid lockdowns, and wish they had someone in the house overnight or to support them back into the community.
For all of the above (and many other scenarios!) Sam Brandman and Natasha Langleben, set up Two Generations in 2018, a home-sharing social enterprise.
What is homesharing exactly?
A Homeshare brings together two people, often from different generations. It helps the Householder (typically an older person or one living with a disability ) to feel safe, gain companionship and retain independence. It helps the Sharers (typically mature students or key workers) with an affordable housing option, as this living arrangement is far below average private rent price. Legally, homesharing is covered under the UK Government’s Tenant Fees Act 2019.
The homesharer moves into the householder’s home after going through a bespoke vetting, selection and matching process. This includes an application process, interviews, matching meetings, a trial period, references and a DBS check – all of which is very similar to a process one would go through to bring a carer into their home, or a nanny/au pair.
The sharers also undertake to provide overnight companionship in addition to a set number of hours per week of household support – including things like cooking, laundry, light cleaning and gardening.
Once the Homeshare is set up, Two Generations stay involved the whole way through with regular check-ins and support; and, if it ends because circumstances change, they will support finding a new sharer.
Two Generations uses award-winning technology, part-funded by Nesta, to support the matching process which allows them to match householders and homesharers on a national scale, which makes them uniquely positioned to support older people across the UK.
There are so many benefits for the householder, whether it’s companionship and support around the house, a contribution to utility bills, a chance to share experiences and wisdom, gain some fresh energy in the house or be helped to get back into the community.
The monthly support charge is kept deliberately low, so it’s a very affordable option for those needing non-medical support or in combination with a carer. As a social enterprise, Two Generations is passionate about doing the right thing and giving back. We reinvest part of our revenue in a bursary scheme to help people with financial needs. It is very important to us that cost should not be a barrier to a Homeshare.
Two Generations is actively looking to work with more partners in the “ageing” space, whether public, private or third sector, to continue to scale up and support as many older people as possible. We already work with a number of charities and social enterprises (including Age UK) and are starting to build partnerships with local authorities and integrated care boards. For example, we’re working very closely with Waltham Forest and Harrow Council and have established our first Homeshare Ambassador in London.
You can find out more on our website and read and watch many of our householders and sharers speaking in national media or through their written testimonials at www.twogenerations.co.uk/media
And to find out more about how Homeshare could benefit your organisation or community, or to discuss potential partnership options, get in touch directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org