The rapid transformation of urban life, where neighbourhoods are increasingly more impersonal and local support networks are disappearing as people grow older, changes in family structure and their function for caring for the elderly, and the crisis of the Welfare State that is being perceived as unsustainable, have driven the search for alternative forms of housing for the elderly. Collaborative housing for the elderly offer an alternative innovation for senior citizens not just because of the way that it is implemented (it is the affected people who devise and put into practice the solutions they need), but also because it involves the exploration and construction of alternative ways to age, care and participate.
In countries where collaborative housing for the elderly has been under development for longer, it has been shown that it can combat loneliness and isolation, increase participation and empowerment among the elderly1-3 and that other aspects are positively related with healthier ageing and, therefore, with less consumption of social and healthcare resources.4-9 However, the same studies reveal that there are notable differences between countries and projects.10
Our main purpose has therefore been to find out about the idiosyncrasy of collaborative housing projects for the elderly that are being undertaken in Spain, with the more specific targets of:
- Producing a map of the movement of collaborative housing for elderly citizens in Spain.
- Identifying the factors involved in the emergence, development, expansion and consolidation of collaborative housing for elderly citizens in Spain.
- Evaluating the psychosocial impact on elderly citizens and their surroundings.
The project has been developed thanks to the support received from 2015 BBVA Foundation Grants for Cultural Researchers and Creators and the Open University of Catalonia.
Our study will look in depth at the Spanish panorama of collaborative housing for elderly citizens and make visible the potentialities of new ways of innovating, caring and participating that are developed by people who wish to age in a different way. The acquired knowledge can contribute to the important work being done to reduce the age-based housing inequalities that are threatening long-term social and economic development and affecting social cohesion.
In this respect, our study could be used as a tool to facilitate synergies between collaborative housing groups and projects for the development of joint strategies.
Moreover, the generation of data on the development and impact of collaborative housing for elderly citizens may contribute elements that strengthen collaboration with public administration, elderly citizen associations and professionals in the sector.
The presence of collaborative housing groups for elderly citizens in Spain has increased exponentially in the last five years. Before 2010, only one project had been set up. We have now recorded 34 such housing projects and the number is expected to continue to rise. Thirteen groups participated in our study, involving a total of 759 people, of which 160 were actively implicated.
The knowledge that MOVICOMA has generated is important for fostering the sustainability and scalability of such projects with the support of Administration in respect for such groups’ desires for self-management.
Improvements to and continuations of the project include the transformation of the data into a website that can be consulted by collaborative housing projects for elderly citizens in Spain and to continue to study everyday life at such establishments while paying special attention to aspects related with self-management, care and design.
- Habert, 2009
- Thomas Blanchart, 2009
- Brenton, 2012
- Choi, 2004
- Choi and Paulsson, 2011
- Andresen and Runge, 2002
- Forbes, 2002
- Fromm and de Jong, 2009
- Glass, 2009