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Dutch students are living in care homes for the elderly and everyone is loving it!

2 min read

Better Society
Source: BrightVibes

In place of paying rent these Dutch students spend 30 hours a month interacting with elderly residents instead.

Inter-generational exchange of information

  • The incentive behind Humanitas Deventer’s “exchange” programme is research that shows reducing loneliness and social isolation improves well-being and extends life expectancy in the elderly.
  • The programme mixes students in their early twenties with residents in their eighties and nineties.
  • As part of their volunteer agreement, the students also spend time teaching residents new skills like how to email, use social media, and Skype relatives.
A potential solution to our ageing populations? A Dutch nursing home has established a programme providing free rent to university students in exchange for 30 hours a month of their time to “act as good neighbours” with the older residents. Source: Facebook World Economic Forum

Reading more into it…

In a similar incentive in England begun in 2011, student volunteers from the Exeter University’s Department of English and Film donate their time to bring conversation, literature, and friendship to the residents of over ten residential care homes across the city. And since the project’s inception it is estimated that around 250 active volunteers have reached over 500 elderly residents – at least half of whom have dementia.

The Care Homes Reading Project draws upon the natural skill set of its target volunteer community – which includes a love of reading and an understanding of the power of literature to impact lives positively. Research shows reading poetry with dementia sufferers – many who learned poetry by heart when they were younger – brings comfort and reassurance through hearing and reciting familiar verses.

"Rhythm and rhyme bring a sense of order and predictability and, as this project has seen first hand, poetry can spark memories previously unknown to carers and even to family members." said Johanna Harris, Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Exeter, in her article for the World Economic Forum.

Sources: World Economic Forum, Humanitas Deventer

Students help out with day to day activities, allowing the professional staff to get on with their job.
A helping hand Students help out with day to day activities, allowing the professional staff to get on with their job. Source: Humanitas Deventer

‘My 93 year-old flatmate’…. a look inside the home Humanitas is a unique inter-generational Dutch retirement home that puts together the young and old, and people suffering from mental disorders with students and volunteers, to share conversations that are not only about death, sickness and old age, but also about youth, parties, girlfriends – and the Internet, of course. Source: Humanitas – Atlas of the Future
Bringing the two generations together is proving beneficial to both parties.
Bridging the age-gap Bringing the two generations together is proving beneficial to both parties. Source: Humanitas Deventer
Make an Impact

How to befriend an elderly neighbour: 10 Steps

Elderly people can be a great source of joy, knowledge, and humor. You may notice an elderly neighbour who seems lonely and want to befriend them. Or, you may say a quick “hello” to your elderly neighbour, but wonder how you can get to know her as a friend. Here are some guidelines on how to make friends with your older neighbours.