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Monday, August 31, 2015

Strategic CSR - The elderly

The article in the url below covers an issue that will be near and dear to many of your students – free accommodation:
"A nursing home in the Netherlands allows university students to live rent-free alongside the elderly residents, as part of a project aimed at warding off the negative effects of aging."
The project demonstrates a creative approach to social issues that is routinely missing from public policy. For the students, the benefits are obvious. But, for their elderly neighbors, I think the benefits are probably greater:
"In exchange for small, rent-free apartments, the Humanitas retirement home in Deventer, Netherlands, requires students to spend at least 30 hours per month acting as 'good neighbors,' Humanitas head Gea Sijpkes said in an email to PBS NewsHour. Officials at the nursing home say students do a variety of activities with the older residents, including watching sports, celebrating birthdays and, perhaps most importantly, offer company when seniors fall ill, which helps stave off feelings of disconnectedness."
Having said that, in the longer run, my sense is that the students are learning lessons that will pay off many times over. Wisdom is a wonderful thing (that is greatly undervalued in our society) and it only comes with experience, which is highly correlated with time elapsed (i.e., aging). Being able to benefit from exposure to the wisdom of their elderly neighbors, while being paid to do so (in terms of free housing), is a phenomenal asset. What's more, even the noise restrictions are lessened by the bad hearing:
"Six students from area universities Saxion and Windesheim share the building with approximately 160 seniors. They are allowed to come and go as they please, as long as they follow one rule: Do not be a nuisance to the elderly. … this is not difficult for the younger residents, especially since most of the older people living at the home are hard of hearing."
The idea appears to be catching on:
"Similar intergenerational programs exist in Lyons, France and Cleveland, Ohio, according to the International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing. One program that began in Barcelona, Spain in the late 1990s has been replicated in more than 20 cities throughout the country."
Take care
David Chandler & Bill Werther
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Dutch nursing home offers rent-free housing to students
By Carey Reed
April 5, 2015
PBS Newshour