Thematic Panel 15- Exploring innovative collective care practices in housing and communities


Professor Misa Izuhara School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, UK

Professor Karen West School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, UK

With social care in crisis, there is an urgent need to look at alternatives to traditional social care models provided in individuals’ homes, specialised housing or care facilities for older people. This thematic panel will explore innovative care practices – that supplement traditional family care or formal social care – in collaborative, collective and shared housing, and also community models such as care co-operatives. It aims to consider how such housing and other alternatives can support ‘ageing in place’, reduce isolation, and enhance the quality of life of older residents through practices such as mutual aid, participatory governance, and collective decision-making. By doing so, it aims to bring the themes of collaboration and housing more fully into the debates around social care.

Alternative housing options in later life sit somewhere between individualised living in people’s own home and specialised housing with care for older people. ‘Collaborative housing’ for example refers to a broad range of self-organised, self-managed and community-orientated forms of housing including cohousing, housing cooperatives and self-governed retirement communities. Such models are often united by their commitment to a set of principles and practices around social interaction and mutual support alongside shared spaces. Pooling resources and exercising agency may also be key features of housing alternatives.

In this context, the thematic panel aims to examine themes such as: benefits and challenges of growing older in collaborative and alternative housing from a care perspective; theorising different care models in different forms of alternative housing; good ‘housing and care’ practices; and fostering collaboration in existing ‘housing with care’ environments. As innovation and collaboration are key themes, the panel also welcomes research into ‘care co-operatives’ – service organisations that are mutually owned and managed by the recipients of care (and also often by the carers themselves) – and which potentially complement or supplement the existing care and support provided in communities.