Monday, 24 February 2020

Home Sharing and Cohousing: Emerging Models of Senior Housing

When I first started learning about housing for seniors well over 20 years ago, there were limited options. Long-term care was for those who needed substantial care and/or could not afford private options and were not safe in their own homes, retirement homes were a private sector option,  for the fairly independent or those who only needed minimal assistance and who had some private income or savings that could go toward the cost, and seniors buildings were basically rental apartments for independent seniors.  The years since have seen an emergence of many new options created out of both necessisty and a desire for seniors to have more choice. Many of these options have existed in other parts of the world for many years and it is evident that some countries are way ahead of ours in terms of both alternate housing options and dementia care.
Of late, the types of care that I find most interesting and ones that are showing great promise, involve a shared home environment with a pooling for resources, sharing of chores and care resulting in greater autonomy for individual seniors, companionship and in many cases, cost savings. There is truly 'no place like home' and any model that aims to keep a senior in their own environment for as long as possible, needs to be explored and supported. 
New to Ontario is home sharing - in a few areas, organizations match seniors who live alone and have space in their homes with either students (intergenerational cohousing), or younger seniors who are willing to share chores and some expenses in exchage for a low rent. In fact, there are even test projects with universty students and seniors which have proven very successful. I'm certain there are people who have done this on their own as well however, with an organization involved it formalizes an agreement and allows for a third party to vet candidates properly.
Another opportunity poping up in the news every now and then, is cohousing, either created by an organization who builds a structure in that model and sells units in it or, informally, as groups of friends choose to create their own 'retirement community' sharing common space and chores and care if necessary.
While both options have limitations if significant care is required, they both aim to maintain independence for as long as possible, in a home setting, limiting the need to relocate, if all you require is minimal support or companionship.
With the increasing number of seniors on the horizion, innovative housing and care options will become increasingly important. I look forward to seeing what the next decade holds as new models of housing and care for seniors emerge and old ones evolve.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

National 211 Day!

Many moons ago, when I was a new social worker in the days before the internet put everything at our finger tips, we had something called the Blue Book. The Blue Book was a social workers bible. It was a giant encyclopedia of every resource possible for everyone possible. You could find anything you needed if you had the time and patience to search for it. Every year a new shiny book came out and we all wanted to get our hands on a copy.
Well, I hesitate to say how many years ago that was. Let's just say it was many. As the internet became our route of choice for locating resources, something called 211 came into being. Like the Blue Book but with even more information, growing by community every year, we now have both a phone and an online resource, that is easy to remember and accessible to all.
And so, today is National 211 Day! A day to "recognize the value of 2-1-1 in our communities and spread awareness about the 2-1-1 service" (source: Find Help Email Feb 7, 2020). 211 is a free services that can be accessed through either a phone (dial 211) or online (211.ca) and contains vaulable information on goverment, health and community services. So, if you need to find information about a service in your community, try calling 211 from your phone or look online at 211.ca. You might be amazed at what is available.
Congratulations from Senioropolis, 211. Keep doing what you are doing to make resource information universally accessible to all who require it.