HomeShare program links seniors and students

It may only be June, but organizers behind a program to link seniors and post secondary students as potential housemates

It may only be June, but organizers behind a program to link seniors and post secondary students as potential housemates is gaining momentum.

A component of the Alberta Generations Project, HomeShare aims to boost affordable options for students and also helps to reduce isolation and increase a sense of security for seniors, explains Dawna Morey, coordinator of the Alberta Generations Project.

“The message we want to get out there is that we want to create a bank of seniors’ homes where we can begin to place students when the students’ applications come in,” she said. “We also want students to know that their housing options may change as they go through the (school) year,” she said. For example, should things not work out with a particular roommate, “They can look at HomeShare as an option. It doesn’t start in September and end in May – it’s something they can opt into anytime during the year.”

HomeShare matches seniors with students based on perceived ‘best fit’ criteria in terms of personalities.

It’s a win-win, as students new to the area can find it an isolating experience and would benefit from having a comfortable home to enjoy. Seniors living alone may also feel a need for more connection. A deal for a reasonable rent can be struck as the student can also lend a hand with helping out with various household chores, too such as mowing the lawn or shoveling the walk.

“We also want to emphasize to the seniors that we do a lot of screening,” said Morey. “By going through HomeShare, there’s that additional screening and monitoring that is there for them.”

Morey also pointed out that HomeShare’s scope goes beyond RDC.

“One of our students that we’ve just matched, who is coming from New Brunswick, is registered as part of the tourism program at Olds College. But she wants to continue to live in Red Deer, so she’s asked to still be part of our program.

“It can help with virtually any kind of learning opportunity – if, for example, they are coming to do a practicum with an engineering firm, they can consider HomeShare. If they are a student-teacher, it’s also an option for them.”

HomeShare, which is actually an international program, is locally a partnership among Family Services of Central Alberta, the Golden Circle Senior Resources Centre, the Alberta Council on Aging – Central Alberta chapter and the Red Deer College Students Association.

Meanwhile, feedback from those who took part in HomeShare last year was very positive, said Morey.

“It was very well-received. The experience was really rewarding, and (participants) said they’d be open to it again.”

For more information about the program and an application, call 403-343-6400 or check out www.homesharereddeer.ca and follow the links.

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