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Would a homeshare scheme suit your parent?

According to the UK Office of National Statistics the number of people aged 85 and over is projected to reach 3.5 million by 2035, 2.5 times larger than in 2010. If the population continues to age at this rate the number of elderly who’ll need support will increase significantly.

Programmes are growing around the country to help older people enjoy some company and get help around the home by sharing their property with a younger person.

Laura Johnson, who is involved in setting up one of the leading Homeshare schemes in London, explains how the service works while journalist Joe Sandler Clarke interviews a recipient of the scheme.

What is the Homeshare scheme?

The Homeshare scheme began to meet the growing need for support services for the elderly in the North London community, although it now covers the whole of London. Budget cuts have meant that the local authority has limited resources with which to support elderly members of the community who wish to remain independent in their own homes but don’t qualify for help from social services.

With the current economic climate putting pressure on the incomes of both younger and older generations Crossroads Care CNL developed the Homeshare scheme to bring young people into the homes of older people to provide live-in support, in the form of companionship and household help, in exchange for a roof over their heads.

How does the scheme work?

If your parent starts to feel lonely or perhaps they feel vulnerable in their home, without anyone for company, they can contact Crossroads Care CNL who will find a suitable homesharer for them. Your parent and the homesharer are introduced and their relationship progress is monitored to make sure that both parties enjoy the experience of living together.

The aim is to widely publicise the scheme so that other regions begin to develop similar programmes enabling more people to remain independent and in their own homes for longer

Who uses the scheme?

Currently there are around 30 Homeshare matches across London (60 people involved in the programme) as Crossroads Care CNL is the only charity in London currently running such a programme.

The majority of people using the scheme are older women living on their own. Our homesharers have an average age of 27 (although there are no upper limits, we do have a few in their 50s) and are all either working or studying in London.

How are homesharers selected?

Everyone who applies to become a homesharer must first be interviewed at Crosswords Care CNL as well as go through a reference and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) – previously known as CRB – check.

We only introduce a person to your parent if we believe they will be a good match. We make sure that they have similar preferences to your parent so they have things in common when it comes to sharing a home together.

Can my parent choose their homesharer?

Your parent, and you, can choose who they share their home with. You can interview potential homesharers before they move in to make sure that they get on with your parent and are suitable to take on household tasks.

What does a homesharer do for my parent?

The homesharer commits to spending at least 10 hours a week with your parent to help them with domestic tasks such as cleaning, laundry or shopping etc. As they live in they also provide an added element of security and friendship for your parent.

It’s important to highlight that our homesharers are not carers but they are genuine caring and responsible individuals who benefit from sharing a home with your parent as much as your parent benefits from living with them.

What does my parent have to provide for their homesharer?

Your parent needs to provide their homesharer with a bedroom and access to the rest of the facilities of the house. The idea is that they share the space which means time together watching television, in the kitchen, garden etc.

Are there rules my parent needs to set?

Your parent, and indeed yourself, can set ground rules with their homesharer from the very beginning. As each match up is unique – some people will need a quiet home environment, whilst others will want a more social environment – it’s important that your parent shares how their day-to-day life works with their homesharer so that they can agree on a convenient schedule for both of them.

What if they don’t get on?

Before a homesharer moves in we advise them on how to coordinate their life with your parent’s to ensure they spend time with each other and most importantly that they get on

The first month your parent shares their home is always a trial period. We monitor our matches to make sure your parent is happy with the person who has moved in. If, for any reason, they don’t get on with them we try our best to rematch both your parent and their homesharer as soon as possible.

What if the homesharer wants to move out?

Whether you parent’s homesharer has decided to move on or your parent needs to replace them with a carer they will both need to give us a month’s notice.

How much does it cost?

In comparison with current home care agency prices, the Homeshare scheme could help to reduce the cost of supportive services for your parent by 80%. With the average home and live-in care providers charging £600-£700 a week for their services, the monthly fee of £130.00 for the Homeshare scheme is considerably cheaper.

How is the money used?

As the Homeshare scheme doesn’t receive any direct funding Crossroads Care CNL relies on the £130 fee that your parent (or you) pay for the programme each month. This fee is allocated towards those working to monitor the matches, evaluate homesharers, visit service users as well as general administration and advertisement.

How does being a part of the scheme feel?

Journalist Joe Sandler Clarke talks to 89-year-old service user Judy Armstrong, about the benefits of living with 31-year-old Angela Wilson and how the Homeshare scheme has helped her remain independent for longer.

As soon as I saw Angela step into my apartment I knew she would make a great housemate. I’d been looking for someone to share my flat with ever since my husband passed away as my dementia makes it difficult to live alone.

I hated the idea of “any old bag” running around my home looking after me so my family and I turned to Homeshare.

Most days Angela makes my breakfast at 7am before heading to her job with St John Ambulance and returning to make us dinner in the evening. She also helps me take my medication and generally keeps me company throughout the week.

It’s a big commitment, even with the support of my family and Crossroads Care.

Despite the 60-year age gap between myself and Angela we’ve become good friends – regularly cooking together and going out for meals. Having lived in the area for almost 50 years I know most of the restaurant owners in Camden. Angela jokes that if it was up to me we would eat out every night.

What’s so lovely is that Angela is here for me as a companion. She makes sure I don’t fall out of bed at night and that kind of thing. What’s more important is that I know I’ve got someone I can rely on, day-in and day-out, who’s just in the next room.

Homeshare is run by Crossroads Care CNL, a charity based in North London which supports carers and people with care needs by delivering high quality services and support. If you’re interested in the scheme and want to find out more you can contact Laura Johnson on 020 7485 7416 or email her [email protected].

For more information on homeshare schemes local to your parent click here.

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