Did you know The number of people over the age of 60 is projected to increase by 43% between 2012 and 2037. …?

I went to hear our Treasurer Barbara Potter together with our newly appointed consultant Steven Tolson give a presentation on Senior Cohousing at the “Getting Housing Right For Older People” CIH (Chartered Institute for Housing) conference on the 18th May in Glasgow. There was so much interest that the event was ‘Sold out’.  About 80 people participated: “staff working in housing associations, local authorities and the third sector that help to support older residents or service users. This included housing officers and other frontline staff, officers involved in developing local strategies and policies relating to housing and services for older people, tenancy support officers and people working with community groups. “ (Click here if you want to see or download the program of the day and for more details of the background & objectives of conference, click here.)

I was keen to hear and see how the conference and delegates addressed 3 of my main questions & concerns :

  1. Are people here in touch with the notion “The Elder”? Calling an older person ‘an Elder’ signifies for me the direction I would like our society to go, with the notion of ‘The Elder’ implying a role and responsibility of the human being when, at a certain age and stage in life, he or she is liberated from being tied to a treadmill. Now, with “wings to fly”, the Elders can show society how to grow places and people in nobler, more dignified ways.
  2. How can people involved with ‘Senior Cohousing’ developments get empowered to contribute successfully to solving the challenges facing our ageing population?
  3. Who will make these empowerments happen?

Evidence for my first question being addressed: I felt joy and hope as I ‘met’ Lynn Benge – Volunteer of the year 2016 for Age Scotland “Love later life”.

click on image to view featured video and hear full story

She is inspiring … Lynn’s own words in the video & the testimonies about her are evidence of the value shared by all at the CIH conference: community living and caring is of utmost essence for the wellbeing of our Elders and through this for all of us.

Yes, without Elders like Lynn our world would be a very sad place.

More evidence for my first point: many examples in the report on the ‘cutting edge’ Fortune Place Development by Castle Rock Edinvar, a multimillion project based on recent research how to best honour and appreciate the Elders in our society through age appropriate housing. The selections of slides below should speak for itself?


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The keywords and core ideas that stand out from the presentation and discussions at this CIH conference were all in the spirit of preserving and nurturing the dignity and contribution capacity of the Elder in our 21st century society. They stress the importance of

  • ageing in the right place
  • old age is ‘opportunity’!
  • the current lack of housing options and the need to make it possible to remain in the community
  • “homes for life” that are flexible and adaptable over time
  • interventions should encourage mixed communities
  • role of technology in supporting ageing-in-place
  • sense of belonging and feeling valued

(key words taken mainly from the research of  Smith Scott Mullan Associates. )

In addition to these, Senior Cohousing has many variations and all imply people being empowered by choosing to be in a specific self-governing group, with a consensus on values and goals. (Just google Cohousing for Elders to discover websites of groups all around the globe!)

So where are we, Penington Senior Cohousing initiative, in this whole picture?

Here is what Steven Tolson, CD LH, presented this as his opening slide to the conference:

In the flight of wild geese there is leadership rotation and calling out encouragement to the leader of the moment.

Below a few more slides of Steven and Barbara’s presentation:

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You can click here if you wish to see the whole presentation see the Pdf of presentation slides of Steven and Barbara. And click here to hear an audio file of the presentation.

Towards adding up the dots…….

The ethos of ‘Senior Cohousing’ in general and our Penington Cohousing in particular matches the consensus at the CIH conference about the targets & parameters that must inform our national policies to secure housing worthy for ALL of our Elders. These slides speak volumes and the captions sum up my resume of the day:


Yes, ‘timing’ is crucial right now:

we can all help to “spread the word” about co-housing to those who can facilitate progress – we need both effective policy changes and well connected people power to support innovative, Elder-led housing with nurturing companionship being embedded in the wider community.

As mentioned last week in our SEDA event report, Land – Communities – Home: In autumn this year there will be an event to create a Cohousing Policy and Manifesto, led by A&DS.  It will bring together policy makers and housing practitioners from all sectors, an event which should put Scotland (at long last) on the global map of innovative, flexible Cohousing and Community-led housing design. Please get in touch if you wish to be invited or know someone who should be invited.

  • Cohousing is an agile concept whose time has arrived – and Scotland needs to “get her skates on” to embrace it creatively, with the aspiring Elders who are ready right now.
  • Cohousing can save money on interventions, because it helps to keep people in good health & good spirits, and thus in their homes for longer as we look after each other

We all need to “put our skates on” to find more of the aspiring and inspiring Elders, who will work together to bring cohousing into ‘bricks and mortar reality’.

For instance in France, an Elder Women CoHo, a multimillion project of  newbuild social housing, government funded, is happening . It interestingly includes 4 flats to be occupied by students. There seems to be a real rationale in this, as it creatively meets the challenge any Elder CoHousing may face: what if we all get helpless at the same time?

What are your thoughts, dear reader?

What do you think of the above blog post?

We would like to hear your thoughts, via the comment section below, via our facebook page or our twitter feed. Which reminds me: somebody madlyb tweeted all the way through the conference for @pencoho !

More images for some of the conference presentation are in this slideshow  ( Opens in a separate window. Remember to pause or manually operate the slide show so you can read in your own good time; slide show still to be edited; but we are publishing post already)

It was great to get a sense at this CIH Conference that there are bright thinking and acting people here, people who can care for courageously for the wellbeing & dignity of our Elders, in enabling many good choices!

And there are many who WOULD like to live as an Elder in a place which is environmentally friendly and with a ‘good neighbourhood’ ethos in place. So then, let’s help each other in downsizing and upskilling and keeping on shining, like these 3 ladies making history in France!

Click on the photo and enjoy the English article it links with