Innovative “care for spare room” solution could help health and housing crisis

The health and housing crises regularly hit the news headlines in Galway, and they have prompted Social Democrats Galway candidate Niall Ó Tuathail to explore a partial solution to both where older Galwegians provide spare rooms to people who are willing to provide companionship and support to them.

He is hosting an information meeting with Irish social enterprise THE HomeShare for anyone interested in such an arrangement on Wednesday next week.

Lucie Cunningham, founder of THE Homeshare said they “thoughtfully match people who have a home and want to share their skills and interests, with someone who needs an affordable home and can share their time for good company and a helping hand around the house.

“For example, we made one match between a retired solicitor and a law student: match made in heaven. We are a social enterprise and cover our costs by charging a small placement fee and then €195 per person involved per month to manage the home share and to be on-hand at all times if needed.

“As we are a social enterprise, we can always work something out if people can’t afford the full fee and will try not to turn people away because of money. All of our homesharers are carefully vetted and we monitor the arrangement so people can feel assured they will have a good experience.

Niall Ó Tuathail, who works in the area of reforming health services, believes this kind of arrangement could make a big difference to people’s lives.

“Many of our older neighbours are living alone and could stay out of hospital or nursing homes for longer if they have some regular care and company. At the same time, many people are struggling to put a roof over their heads and pay the bills at the end of the month.

If people are properly matched by an expert like Lucie, it could be a life-changer for them.

“To allow people to find out more, the Social Democrats are hosting an information evening with THE Homeshare as well as a presentation by Anne Donnellan of Age Action Galway on its members’ current experience of home care.

The event will be held in the Social Democrats campaign office at 2D William Street West (between Claddagh Cabs and The Blue Note ) at 7.30pm on Wednesday January 17.

Mr Ó Tuathail said that all who might avail of the service are welcome - elderly residents, their relatives, or people who are looking for affordable accommodation. We hope people will able to ask questions, get honest answers and see if it is for them,” he concluded.

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