A nursing home in the Netherlands is offering university students rent-free accommodation, in return for their daily interaction with their elderly co-inhabitants. Alongside their residents, Humanitas Residential and Care Centre in Deventer provides free accommodation to six students, in exchange for 30 hours of voluntary work in the home every week.
The arrangement is mutually beneficial, assisting money-poor young people who would struggle to afford the increasing student rent, as well as improving the quality of life for elderly residents. Isolation and loneliness has been linked to mental decline and increased mortality, and while most care homes encourage visiting volunteers, the arrangement at Humanitas has a much more significant effect on those living there, since the neighbors are able to forge meaningful relationships.
Students earn their keep by teaching residents how to email and use social media, as well as assisting staff and spending time with the elderly residents. Humanitas is not the only care home to adopt the intergenerational model, but it is the first to offer rent free accommodation to the students. We have seen other companies — such as Lift Hero — using students as a resource for caring for the elderly. Where else could students stay for less, and help the communities they live in at the same time?
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