Leaders in social care have highlighted the initiatives that are attempting to buck the trends of housing, social lives and public services which keep generations apart.
Responding to an article in the Guardian about how the generational gap has made Britain a “dysfunctional family”, Alex Fox, CEO of Shared Lives Plus, and Michael Voges, executive director of Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO), said homesharing schemes and retirement communities are bridging divides between the old and young.
Shared Lives Plus, a UK charity that promotes supported shared living, partnered with Homeshare UK four years ago with the aim of supporting vulnerable people across the county.
Writing in the Guardian, Fox said: “Homeshare is growing quickly in the UK, with greater numbers of older and younger people living together – the older person enjoying company and a hand around their house, and the younger person finding an affordable home.
“It is easy to see initiatives like Homeshare as peripheral, but there’s no reason why they can’t be mainstream – especially when the need has never been greater. The global Homeshare movement shows that this approach can be brought to thousands of people, and is in many other countries.”
A report by United for All Ages, published last week, warned that Britain is one of the most age-segregated countries in the world, with people of different ages unlikely to mix with each other outside their own families.
It argued that ‘age apartheid’ has led to generational divides within communities across the country, and is aiming to help establish 500 shared sites where people of all ages can mix and share activities by 2023.
Also commenting on the Guardian article, Vogues said retirement communities, in contrast to care homes, bridge the gap between generations to tackle loneliness.
“Rather than being ‘well set back from the road’, many of the hundreds of new developments being built are on or near a high street, and act as hubs for the whole community by welcoming members of the public to use shared facilities.
“Take the Chocolate Quarter in Bristol, run by the St Monica Trust on the site of the old chocolate factory which previously served as the heart of the community. On top of 136 supported housing units and a 93-bed care home, the Quarter has office space, a swimming pool, pottery, dance studio, cinema, restaurant and bar – all accessible to local people and designed to appeal to all ages.
“The on-site GP centre refers patients to activity groups in the retirement community, building a sense of shared participation and mutual benefit. “Instead of being islands of the elderly, innovative retirement communities create intergenerational connections to the benefit of us all.”
Caption: Shared Lives Plus partnered with Homeshare UK four years ago with the aim of supporting vulnerable people across the county.