RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017


86 Home futures: towards a critical feminist geography of housing, ageing and health (1)
Affiliation Geographies of Health and Wellbeing Research Group
Gender and Feminist Geographies Research Group
Convenor(s) Karen West (Aston University, UK)
Sheila Peace (The Open University, UK)
Melissa Fernández Arrigoitia (Lancaster University, UK)
Chair(s) Karen West (Aston University, UK)
Sheila Peace (The Open University, UK)
Timetable Wednesday 30 August 2017, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Session abstract Home is a complex topic: a social, physical and emotional environment supportive of personal identity that may mitigate isolation and loneliness associated with significant physical and mental health risks in older age. As societies around the world face unprecedented social, economic and political pressures alongside socio-demographic transformations, housing models are evolving and some are proposing citizen-led innovations in social and material design that challenge mainstream ways of doing/living, including women-only senior groups. By providing alternatives to traditional housing development practices and to living alone, these modes of action and living may enhance individual and collective well-being while ageing in place by facilitating forms of mutual-care and companionship alongside independence, empowerment and engagement. They may also generate new power asymetries or exclusions. These developments are not limited to the Global North and span a range of spatial scales and cultural practices. The critical theoretical and empirical questions they raise are only beginning to be explored- and in this session, we want to bring some of these strands of thought together.

Drawing on the growth in both senior and inter-generational cohousing (and other collaborative housing) movements in Europe and internationally, this session is interested in how different groups of people, including women-only groups, might actively decolonize housing and ageing knowledges by taking matters of personal and collective concern over the future of residential environments into their own hands. We are interested in the ways in which alternative arrangements of home space and performances of age might disrupt, (and/or reproduce) hegemonic understandings of needs in relation to housing, health and wellbeing in later life.

The ‘Home’ can include socio-technical, material, psychosocial, emotional and geo-political approaches. Contributions will include work at at the intersections of: human geographical approaches to practices, conceptualizations and meanings of urban home futures; psychosocial approaches to ageing and homes; feminist and STS-approaches to care, mutual-aid and social reproduction in/through home; socio-material approaches to environmental gerontology, health and well-being; and feminist geopolitics of the home.
Linked Sessions Home futures: towards a critical feminist geography of housing, ageing and health (2)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2017@rgs.org
The Lived Experiences of Caring for People with Dementia in their own Homes
Samantha Wilkinson (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
Lucy Perry-Young (University of Nottingham, UK)
Kristian Pollock (University of Nottingham, UK)
Cheryl Travers (Loughborough University, UK)
Justine Schneider (University of Nottingham, UK)
A growing number of people with dementia are cared for in their own homes in many countries, including the UK. In this presentation, I introduce the BOUGH study, which aims to Broaden Our Understanding of Good Home care for people with dementia. The BOUGH study utilises a combination of conventional and innovative methods. In this presentation, I draw on data from the participant observation element of the study. This involved myself and another researcher training to become home care workers, and then providing personal and companionship care for clients with dementia, in their own homes, over the course of a year. We provided some care independently, and we also shadowed existing care workers. Drawing on these ethnographic observations, I discuss how dementia impacts on the meaning of home. For instance, how dementia may alter older people’s micro-geographies within their own homes, and also how it may impact upon their (im)mobilities around the home. I also discuss the role of care workers in attempting to re-familiarise clients with their own home, and activities within their home. More than this though, in addition to aiding familiarisation with the home, I show how care workers attempt to shape, and fundamentally alter, the atmosphere of the home (for instance, soundscapes; lightscapes; and smellscapes), to provide a therapeutic carescape. Integrated with this, is a discussion of how power hierarchies between care workers and clients are (re)negotiated, and in a constant state of flux, and the importance of the fact that care workers are ultimately in the home of the client to these power dynamics. I critically reflect upon my experience of participating in such an immersive ethnography, bringing to the fore the emotional and physical toll of doing research of this kind.
Feelings at home: towards an emotional geography of the UK’s first older women’s co-housing
Melissa Fernández Arrigoitia (Lancaster University, UK)
Karen West (Aston University, UK)
Sheila Peace (The Open University, UK)
Following an 18-year campaign by the Older Women's Co-housing (OWCH), 26 women ages ranging from 50 to 87 moved in to the UK’s first purpose-built senior co-housing facility in North London in 2016. This intentional, non-institutional form of communal ageing in place includes private and shared spaces and active participation in everyday life. Developing senior co-housing requires that ageing be explicitly and collectively imagined, discussed and considered in relation to future individual and shared home environments . The model promises a preventive intervention against loneliness (Fernández Arrigoitia et al, 2016) at the point of ‘option recognition’ (Peace et al, 2011) and aims to facilitate informal forms of mutual-care and companionship alongside independence and empowerment.

In this paper we draw on in-depth qualitative interviews and questionnaires carried out with 18 of the OWCH women in the period that preceded their move to explore their individual emotional geographies of ageing and home. The analytic framework will combine strands from critical and feminist geographies of the home (e.g., Baxter and Brikell 2014; Blunt and Varley 2004; Brickell 2012a & b; Baxter and Brickell) with emerging emotional geographies of location (Jones and Jackson 2014) and ageing literature (particularly around relationality and affect) (Andrews & Grainer 2016) to address questions like: how are the women’s ageing imaginaries, ideals and anxieties projected onto and intricately bound up with the spaces of their future shared homes? How do expectations of care and well-being get complexly tied into feelings of hope, anxiety, liberation, shame or worry? What affective boundaries and bridges between past, present and anticipated home futures get drawn to produce socio-spatial alternatives to traditional ageing narratives?
Age and engagement in community-led housing
Yael Arbell (University of Leeds, UK)
This paper looks at the relation between age and engagement in community-led housing, in the context of the housing crisis in the UK. As home ownership declines, rent becomes increasingly precarious. Young people struggle to buy a home like their parents’ generation did, and home owners are generally older. In some areas the phenomenon of second-homes peaks and a growing number of people find themselves ‘priced-out’ of their area. In response to this growing insecurity, community groups organise to build secured, affordable housing and a supportive community. However, in spite of the evident attraction of such form of housing to young people, the group at the heart of this study (from the South-West or England) finds it difficult to attract younger families and the majority of its members are retired. Through this case study, the paper considers some aspects of age and their impact on participation in CLH, including social and financial capital, free time and long-term commitment to place of residence.

Setting up a community is a challenging project; indeed, the majority of groups who set out to build one do not complete it. The willingness and ability to engage in community-led projects at an early stage depends (among other elements) on social position and material resources. Some people are better positioned than others to achieve this goal: the wealthier and existing home-owners who do not have to depend on loans, the better educated and well-connected, and those with time in their hands; in other words, the more capital they have – in its various forms – the more likely they are to succeed (although some exceptions exist). In many ways, older people fit in more easily with this profile. This paper looks at the incentives and barriers for people in different ages to take part in community-led housing at different stages of the development process.
The temporality of “home”- Reflecting on the experience of older people ageing and dying in their own dwelling
Renske Visser (University of Bath, UK)
This paper will address the experiences of older people (age 85-98) ageing in their own dwelling and their expectations of dying “at home”. The current end-of-life-care strategy in the United Kingdom claims the majority of people want to die ‘at home’ without critically examining what “home” means to people. This paper will build on research conducted for doctoral research which focused on the meaning of “home”, and the everyday lived reality of older people living alone in their own dwelling in the Southwest of England.

Older people have a lifetime of experiences and therefore may have multiple and perhaps contradictory understandings of what is “home”, and what not. However in policy concerning end of life care and place of death ‘home’ is used as a static concept mostly referring to older people’s current dwelling. Temporality and the way older people experience time is essential in understanding how older people’s lived experience of “home” is constructed and negotiated. Taking a phenomenological approach, this paper will offer examples of the intersection of meanings of “home” in relation to the older people’s understanding of their lived body, lived space, lived relationships and lived time. As the majority of older people in the UK are living alone in their own dwellings this poses real questions to what extent older people feel “at home” in these places in present time, and how they anticipate their future within these dwellings. Older people’s perspectives on ageing and dying in their own dwellings or on “ageing in place” are often not incorporated in policy yet are essential in creating more adequate practices. Older people’s understanding of past, present and future are key in understanding the complexity of “home”.
Re-making home alone: experiencing widowhood during retirement abroad
Rebekah Miller (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
This paper will explore some of the experiences of widowed British people who have migrated to the Costa del Sol, in Spain, to retire. Their migration may have been motivated by a joint retirement ‘project’ (see work on lifestyle migration including Benson and O’Reilly, 2009; Torkington et al., 2015) and, in some cases, may have only been fulfilled by the widowed spouse. By exploring the daily lives and experiences of widowed British retirement migrants, this paper will engage with the concept of home and how this concept, and its potential physical manifestations, may have been re-made and re-shaped after the death of a partner (Blunt and Dowling, 2006; Brickell, 2012; Brickell, 2014). By engaging with the concept of home, this paper will draw on emotional geographies literature in understanding the ways in which loss, bereavement, and experiences of widowhood can be intimately connected to how ‘home’ is understood (Baldassar, 2013; Davidson et al., 2005). Attention will also be paid to the practices involved in re-making home in the Costa del Sol such as use of digital media (Miller and Sinanan, 2014; Sawchuck and Crow, 2012), or joining previously unattended social groups (Haas, 2013). This paper will therefore explore some of the ways that ageing is experienced in a migration context, alongside challenging hegemonic societal discourses about what it means to be ‘old’, and how widowhood should be experienced (Oliver, 2008; O’Reilly, 2000). Being widowed has been identified as a significant life event, however it is not one that human geography has investigated thoroughly (Maddrell, 2016). This paper will therefore begin to contribute to scholarship on the geographies of ageing; specifically, by exploring the concept of, and experiences related to, home for older widowed migrants.