Nan Maitland, an occupational therapist in south London, developed the first UK Homeshare programme back in the late eighties. This was in direct response to the needs of older people in the borough who needed a little extra support to carry on living independently in their own homes.

Nan truly believed that human relationships between the generations could be mutually beneficial and fulfilling. She felt sure the Homeshare model could provide choice in how and where people live, foster independence and build resilience.

Homeshare is a simple concept. It brings together people with spare rooms and individuals who are happy to chat and lend a hand around the house in return for affordable, sociable accommodation. Together, householders and homesharers share a home life, time, skills and experience.

Homesharers are typically younger people, students or public service workers. Increasingly, they are also ‘younger’ older people or newly divorced individuals who are struggling to afford the housing they need to live, study or work in. What they have in common is a happy willingness to give up to ten hours of their time per week to provide support and companionship in exchange for a safe and comfortable home.

The practical support offered through a Homeshare match is agreed between the householder and homesharer and usually includes activities like: cooking, shopping, cleaning, laundry, reading, administration, IT skills and walking the dog. Companionship, the feeling of living in a safe place and the independence a homeshare can bring are equally beneficial for both parties.

The mutual arrangement also brings peace of mind to families knowing that an older relative is not alone or that a son or daughter in a new city is in a safe and comfortable home.

Read more on Social Care.