I recently read a great article from Johanna Harris, Senior Lecturer in English at Exeter University, (a shorter video is available on the World Economic Forum on Facebook), which is such a good idea that I’m amazed it hasn’t caught on more.

In Holland, Dutch students who agree get to live in elderly care homes rent-free in exchange for spending 30 hours every month keeping the residents company.  This seems to benefit both generations. The students get to save money and learn about history through talking to the residents.  The interaction with the students helps the residents to feel less lonely, and they can try and learn new technologies from the students.  It improves residents’ life expectancy, and I also imagine it helps the younger generation to understand the perils of ageing and maybe have more sympathy for older people.

This is such a good idea!  A similar programme has been tried since 2011 here in the UK.  English & Film students at Exeter University read poetry to elderly people in 10 care homes across Exeter who are suffering with dementia, with astounding results.  You can read Johanna Harris’ article in full by putting this link into your browser.


I don’t think there is the space in the majority of our UK care homes for students to rent out rooms as they are usually full to capacity, but hey, what a wonderful arrangement this would be!