“It’s a real god-send” says 85 year-old Rose, from Melbourne’s outer suburbs. “I’m able to stay at home now that I’ve got Olympia, because she’s great company and it’s more security also.”

She’s describing an arrangement with her much younger housemate, Olympia, put in place by community services organisation Care Connect and the Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre.

The organisation, based in Melbourne, has developed the Homeshare program to match older people living with a disability in their own homes with people willing to do around 10 hours of household work a week in exchange for almost free accommodation.

Carers’ contribution to keeping the house running might include some cooking, gardening, cleaning, assistance with transportation to appointments, or help on the computer.

Rose and OIympia went through a careful matching process, involving interviews, initial meetings, and a 6 month live-in trial.

They’ve now been together over 18 months, with Olympia primarily helping with cooking to alleviate the stress on Rose’s arthritic limbs.

She also has diabetes, and after her husband died a few years ago suffered a heart attack.

“If I didn’t have Olympia living with me, the family wanted to put me in a nursing home,” says Rose. She’s not wholly against the idea, but prefers being surrounded by her treasured possessions, memories, and the ability to continue socialising with her friends and family.

The arrangement works well for Olympia too.

“I didn’t really want to live alone … it’s kind of difficult to live alone. So this was a great…

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