Collaborative housing as a successful alternative for older people during pandemic

Collaborative housing as a successful alternative for older people during pandemic

Seventy-eight-year-old Paloma Rodriguez suffered from covid-19 and was discharged from the hospital on April 1, 2020. She responded with a sharp refusal to her daughter’s offer to return to her home, choosing Trabenzene for recovery. It is a residential complex built-in 2013 in Torremocha del Jarama (province of Madrid).

The authorities have provided self-managed housing for the elderly to make it easier to look after them during the pandemic. “Being here when I got infected and getting the opportunity to recover is a real gift of fate. I did not have to leave the apartment, everything I needed was right outside the door, and I received regular medical supervision,” says Rodriguez. The cohousing formula is referred to as senior cohousing. It involves the integration of private housing with public premises and areas for the residence of the building managers and maintenance personnel.

“The risk of COVID-19 disease is similar to that of the hostel residents, but the ways of dealing with it are different. It is easier to prevent or recover from the disease in cohousing,” says José Antonio Medina, professor of social anthropology at Pablo Olavide University, an expert on this model.

The ability of the members of these cooperative housing estates to organize their daily lives and make informed decisions about everything that happens there contributes, according to Medina, “to heighten optimism and to successfully resist in the face of difficulties, while in the residential buildings there is isolation and inclination to panic attacks”.

The consensus remains vital. All partners are actively involved in public life, and pensioners decide on accommodation voluntarily. “They remain self-reliant and independent,” says Pablo Montos, CEO of Spain’s first co-living complex. It is the Residencial Santa Clara, opened in Malaga in 2001. One hundred thirteen retirees live in this complex. During the second pandemic wave, the virus affected 11 residents and nine medical workers, which confirms the success of this format of residence within the epidemic.

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