Mentioned three times in recent postings … time for some background ?
**I lived with an older person in return for cheap rent, but my chores quickly grew.
Schemes that match young people priced out of renting with older people with a spare room and in need of company are not the simple solution to live-in care they may appear.**
On paper, homesharing sounds perfect. It matches young people, like myself, who can’t afford London’s rocketing rents, with older people who are lonely.
As I was about to start a full-time master’s course, I was only going to be able to work part-time, so renting a normal flat was out of the question. I searched for alternative options from being a property guardian to being an au pair.
Homesharing appealed to me: it was only a 10-hour commitment in total, I was told, which would include four evenings of companionship as well as chores around the house. I was also allowed to take a maximum of two nights away each month and I would have my own room in a nice part of London. Most importantly, my rent would be extremely cheap. I signed up thinking it was a no-brainer and ignoring my mum’s doubts.
As a community nurse, who often treats older people in their own homes, my mum predicted there would be a lot of pressure on me. But in my determination to be independent – and with the reassurance from the agency that everything would be just lovely – I ignored her.
While waiting to move in to the beautiful north London home with Amie, the lady I’d been matched with, I happily daydreamed about having a grandmother figure to come home to after a long day at university. The reality was somewhat different. Amie (not her real name) had a very specific schedule that she wanted me to fit into, which with my MA demands and my part-time job wasn’t possible. Worse, she treated me as if I was an employee rather than a housemate.
Despite having an extended family who lived nearby and various commitments of her own, she wanted me to spend a lot more than 10 hours a week with her and my chore list began to grow. Given that I was living in her home, I found it difficult to say no to her. My grades began to slip. But I didn’t feel I was able to move out. How could I let an elderly lady down? How could I afford to move out?
But then she got sick. It hadn’t occurred to me how much of a problem it would be before it happened. Even as her family called to tell me, I reacted as a concerned friend would, not as someone who would have to help plan her care. Eight hours in to her first day back at home, after being in hospital, I’d done everything a fully trained – and fully paid – carer would have done bar actually shower her.
In fact any form of personal care, such as taking her to the toilet, was actually forbidden in my contract. But I wasn’t going to let her wet the bed. As my mum had predicted, the pressure was on me. Yet, instead of being paid to do it, I was actually paying for the privilege.
As my stress levels rose, I realised I wouldn’t be able to stay and so with support offered from my family, I handed in my notice to the agency. By then Amie had hired full-time carers to help while she recovered, which made things easier when I moved out as she wasn’t left on her own. It won’t be long, however, until she’s fully back on her feet and another student will be moving in to take over from me.
The situation has left me concerned about how many other older people there are relying on young people who are unpaid and untrained in order to get cheap care in the home. Since leaving my placement with Amie, I’ve noticed many more adverts for similar homeshare schemes.
As care in the home becomes increasingly difficult to access and rents soar, it’s perhaps inevitable that more people will turn to homesharing. But with little support on offer and no regulation, I would urge anyone considering these schemes, both old and young, to think twice.
In it’s purest form , a bartering scheme … reduced rent for labour in the basic form of caring as we know it.
( Bartering … goes down well with both the TaxMan and DoleMan ??? )
Fun starts when a commercial entity enters the scene … taking slices off both ends … as one poster has already found out.
Can work for some but … a minefield for others.
Anyone thinking of joining such a scheme should do their homework … carefully !!!
AGE UK has some guidance on this :
Helping to improve older people's wellbeing | Age UK
Homeshare UK for a fuller sp … caveat empor !!!
( A registered charity … offering a commercial service. )
There is no case law yet … employment and landlord / tenant law spring to mind.
BE WARNED … don’t skimp on the homework !!!
( Internet search … UK HOMESHARING SCHEMES / NEWS … always a good starter for ten. )