Dutch Nursing Home Provides Students With Free Housing For Moving In And Spending Time With Residents
There are times when someone comes up with an idea so bizarrely brilliant that you wonder how no one has ever thought of this before. For instance: a recent idea out of the Netherlands for creating affordable housing for college students — while at the same time providing increased quality of life for seniors. The idea: give college students free housing at nursing homes in exchange for them spending time with the residents.
This novel solution comes from the Humanitas retirement home in Deventer, Netherlands, which currently offers six small, rent-free apartments to students enrolled in university in addition to housing about 160 seniors. Students are required to spend 30 hours a week being "good neighbors," which can involve a broad array of activities, including watching sports with fellow residents, attending birthday parties and other celebrations, and visiting sick residents.
The program has been going on for about two years, and seems to be working out well for everyone. “The students bring the outside world in, there is lots of warmth in the contact,” Gea Sijpkes, head of Humanitas, explained PBS NewsHour. And as for students, they only have one rule to worry about: don't annoy the permanent residents. But given that most of the residents are predictably hard of hearing, this isn't as hard as you'd expect.
Elder care and student housing are both major issues in the Netherlands, where average student housing expenses are higher than almost any where else in Europe and where the increasingly aging population has caused the nation to get creative when it comes to elder care. But these are also issues that affect the United States as well, where college costs — included housing — are skyrocketing and where the elderly population continues to grow.
In other words, this wouldn't be a bad idea to implement here in the good old USA. And, in fact, there is at least one retirement home in the US to try the model out, the Judson Retirement Communities in Cleveland, Ohio. And the program looks pretty cool.
Basically, this program is something that ought to be even more widespread. Because it just makes so much sense.