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Cohousing – a solution to future care needs?

Posted on 07/02/2016

The future of care can be quite worrying, with councils being under pressure and unable to provide much-needed support to everyone who needs it; the cost of residential and home care high; and many of us ill-prepared for old age.

It is no wonder that new solutions to the care crisis are being proposed all the time. We recently looked at the concept of intergenerational living, either within families or through dedicated schemes, but another great solution has cropped up through the idea of cohousing.

Cohousing consists of groups of individuals who come together to live as a community. Every person or household has their own home, but the community meets regularly and arranges activities together. Through this purpose-built community, residents are not isolated, as they can often be in their own homes where neighbours barely exchange hellos. This means that they can look out for each other, as well as avoid some of the problems associated with loneliness, such as depression.

Cohousing can work with people of any age, and can make use of existing locations or new builds. One notable project is the Older Women’s Co Housing (OWCH) project, which is a group of women aged over 50, who are creating a community in a new, purpose-built block of flats in London.  The residents all meet regularly to cultivate friendships and get to know one another while the housing is being built. There are flats available for both private sale and social rent, though prospective women need to apply for membership. At present, there are only a couple of opportunities available, but success of the project could see more similar communities set up.

The OWCH has a wide age range from mid-50s to over 80, and brings together women from all kinds of different backgrounds, but who live alone and crave the companionship of a community. The group aims to care and support one another, and combine the best of both privacy and community.

To find out more about cohousing and the various projects currently underway in the UK, or to look at starting your own cohousing project, take a look at: http://cohousing.org.uk

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