Homesharing for older people and intergenerational living schemes have been around since the ’70s abroad; good business models have emerged. So what’s happening in Australia?
The matching of people looking for cheaper accommodation in capital cities with lonely senior citizens living in their large city residences is not a new concept. It makes so much sense.
There are such matching services specifically catering for older Australians, though they are limited in number and tend to be bolted on as an additional offering rather than a sole focus of the business.
Of course, there have always been the homestay services provided to international students, however that business model is onerous on the home owner as they are expected to cook, clean and sometimes provide transport for the student.
Some interesting options have appeared in recent years. The Room Xchange is an online house sharing platform where the home owner and renter are matched (via algorithm) on the basis of the values, personality and lifestyle and where the rent can be offset by the renter performing certain jobs around the home. It opened for business in 2017.
Last year, a more personalised service for older Australia’s was launched by social entrepreneur and former registered nurse, Jacinta Duffy. The business is called Shared Lives Australia.
Under the Shared Lives Australia business model, in return for low-cost accommodation, the boarder (home sharer) provides 10 hours of support to the senior citizen (the home provider). That support may include:
- Assistance with technology
- Cleaning the bathroom
- Walking the dog
- Accompanying you to an appointment or outing
- Meal preparation.
Shared Lives Australia personally interviews the home provider and home sharer and undertakes various checks to establish eligibility, and then makes the match. A formal home share agreement is signed and a trial weekend takes place.
On an ongoing basis, Shared Lives Australia, schedules check ins with the home provider and both parties can access the 24/7 helpline and the Shared Lives App.
Shared Lives Australia appears to be similar to the successful French business model, Ensemble2générations launched in 2006.
What is attractive about the Ensemble2générations model is the clear expectations of the parties for the three options on offer. As the website is in French, I’ll translate for you:
Option 1: The boarder must be present for one hour at dinner time and must be there at night and stay overnight. They can have one evening off a week, two weekends off a month and four weeks of vacation between September and June. For this option, the boarder has their own room and pays a very reasonable 10 Euros/month (~A$16/month) for accommodation.
Option 2: For providing small services such as help with technology, grocery shopping and shared outings, the boarder pays 150 Euros/month (~A$250/month). There is no strict requirement on them to be present each night and overnight, allowing them more freedom to come and go provided those small services are met.
Option 3: For spending time together and just being around in the home with no further obligations, the boarder pays 200 Euros/month (~A$330/month).
Sounds like a well-honed model. Media reports on the scheme appear to be positive.
We look forward to seeing more intergenerational share living services appear in Australia.
Some useful links on homesharing for older people:
Danielle Robertson’s DR Care Solutions website – https://www.drcaresolutions.com/
Shared Lives Australia – https://www.shared-lives.com.au/
The Room Xchange – https://theroomxchange.com/
Ensemble2generations – https://ensemble2generations.fr/
ABC Compass episode called “Perfect Match”. This episode looks at homesharing for older people. Here’s the synopsis: Increasing numbers of older people are living alone, at the same time soaring rents make it challenging to find somewhere affordable to live for many students, low paid workers and retirees. Compass follows people taking first steps as they are matched, meet and hopefully hit it off. You can watch the episode here – https://www.abc.net.au/religion/watch/compass/perfect-match/12075740?jwsource=cl
HomeShare Australia and New Zealand Alliance – Homeshare Australia and New Zealand Alliance (HANZA) is the peak body for Homeshare and its providers in Australia and New Zealand, advocating for the development of Homeshare in the region. This is where you can find out more information about the Homeshare concept and read media articles about it. – https://www.hanza.org.au/
Carers’ Circle article – Aged care living options explained – three main choices – https://carerscircle.com.au/2021/06/29/aged-care-living-options-explained-three-main-choices/. However now this article gives you another option.
Carers’ Circle article – When your elderly parents live far away – https://carerscircle.com.au/2021/06/02/when-your-elderly-parents-live-far-away-2/
Carers’ Circle article – Advance care planning – planning for your future health care – https://carerscircle.com.au/2023/08/03/advance-care-planning-planning-for-your-future-health-care/
Carers’ Circle article – Home care funding – what can I spend my aged care package on? – https://carerscircle.com.au/2023/02/22/home-care-funding-what-can-i-spend-my-aged-care-package-on/
Photo credit: Daughter having tea with mom at home on RawPixel.