‘Kangaroo’ houses help Belgium’s elderly and immigrants

by Paola Battista - 2014.12.10
‘Kangaroo’ houses help Belgium’s elderly and immigrants
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Almost 30 years since it was launched in Brussels, the concept of 'kangaroo housing' seems to be working. This initiative is little known, despite being well established in Belgium, and is an original and effective way of promoting intercultural dialogue while also looking after the elderly. How does it work? Older people live together with immigrant families, in the same house but on separate floors. The family helps the elderly person if they are in trouble or in need of any small daily chore. An example of the 'kangaroo' project was launched by 'Foyer Dar'Al Amal' association in Molenbeek – a district of Brussels where 60% of the population are immigrants and 25% are retired. The project has improved the level of safety felt by the elderly, who no longer feel intimidated but, rather, are looked after by their foreign neighbours. Overall, it has meant less isolation for both parties, less prejudice, de-institutionalisation and improved well-being.

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