Art of Dying Art of Dying_Volume III_joomag | Page 34

Feature A Care Home With A Difference STORY BY WENDY GLASS • PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF HUMANITAS REPRODUCED BY PERMISSION OF THE PEOPLE’S FRIEND MAGAZINE • THEPEOPLESFRIEND.CO.UK 150 residents aged between 79 and 104 live at Humanitas Home for the Elderly in Holland – and six young students. “The connection between the two generations has made Humanitas a better place,” says Gea Sijpkes, director of Humanitas Home for the Elderly, which is in Deventer, east of Amsterdam. Gea explains that the six students live at Humanitas rent free, in exchange for spending 30 hours a month with their older neighbours. “Thanks to the students who now live at Humanitas, our elderly residents have more to do, they can enjoy the company of young people without having to go anywhere and they have so many things to 34 | ART OF DYING talk about,” says Gea. “There are only so many topics of conversation in an elderly care home but at Humanitas, they love gossiping about the students and what they get up to, such as whether one of the boys has a new girlfriend and if she stayed the night! “As well as a free apartment, the young people who live at Humanitas learn caring skills, they gain valuable life skills and they become good neighbours. During their time with us, we watch these young people become beautiful adults.” The first student moved into Humanitas Home for the Elderly in December 2012, soon after Gea was appointed