Research has shown a positive correlation between the wellbeing of older adults and their belonging to social networks. As individuals age and experience a decline in functional ability (physical and cognitive), the necessity for social support increases. However, the accessibility of social support tends to decrease with age.
In Israel, the wave of older immigrants from the former Soviet Union (FSU) in the early 1990s resulted in an influx of new immigrants who were particularly vulnerable to isolation. The vast majority of this population, particularly those who were still fully independent, did not join traditional Israeli social frameworks, such as day care centers and social clubs for older adults. This was primarily due to the foreign culture and inability to communicate in Hebrew, and for many, in English as well.
The Warm Homes model was first developed in 1998 when immigrants from the FSU, who had known about Eshel’s Warm Home program in the former Soviet Union, saw its potential to provide a solution for older adult immigrants in Israel. They turned to Eshel for assistance to implement the program in Israel.
There is a need for social interactions and networks. This is particularly true of older adults (75+), of whom 50% report strong feelings of loneliness, as well as widowers, Israeli-Arabs, new immigrants, parents who have lost children, and individuals separated from their spouses.
The Warm Homes program targets lonely and isolated older adults who are not involved with community programs and/or other social or cultural programs.
The program consists of cohorts of 12-15 participants each, which meet weekly or biweekly at the home of a host family. The content and character of the meetings differs from cohort to cohort based on the preferences and interests of the group members. Key elements to the program's success are the participants' shared common background and a regular location to hold the meetings in one of the group members' apartments.
As of 2017, there are over 300 Warm Homes operating throughout Israel.
Eshel has modified and culturally adapted the original model to serve new target populations such as bereaved parents, Holocaust Survivors (130 groups), homebound older adults, older adults in rural regions and older adults living with early stage dementia.
- Reduce feelings of loneliness and depression
- Sense of belonging to the community
- Feels secure due to the presence of a support network
- Included and integrated into the community
- Participates in activities
- Increased social interaction and stimulation
1998 – 2018 (Eshel will be entirely phased out of the program as of July 2018. Whereas Eshel will no longer have financial and operational responsibility for the program, it will continue to have professional oversight over the program.)
Ministry of Welfare, Ministry of Defense, Associations for Older Adults, Local Authorities