[Tagging] amenity=retirement_home and social facility

Greg Troxel gdt at ir.bbn.com
Sun Jul 3 13:51:53 UTC 2016

Colin Smale <colin.smale at xs4all.nl> writes:

> A commercial website is not the same as a dictionary.... Commercial
> entities can have an interest in not using generic terminology, whereas
> a dictionary is all about ensuring a common understanding.


> A "group home" is, to me (UK English native speaker), a phrase
> consisting of two words, and I can easily imagine what might be
> meant. It is not (again, to my understanding) an accepted phrase that
> would deserve its own lemma in an English dictionary or a translation
> dictionary.

In contemporary en_US, it has a fairly clear meaning and I think most
people understand it with some degree of uncertainty in meaning.

It's a regular house in a regular neighborhood, but instead of a family
or perhaps a few roommates, has some small number, 4-6 probably, maybe
8, of people that have some issues, usually significant mental
developmental disability, some kind of addiction, or some kind of
psychiatric issues.  Residents are typically mostly ok physically.  Most
people would expect the people to have similar or at least compatible
issues.  And then someone who is staff (paid) who also lives there, or
rotating staff to supervise and help, more with structure than with
individual physical help.

Long ago (60s?), some people that are now in group homes would likely in
state mental institutions, and at some point those were shuttered,
largely without an alternative plan.  The group homes are more or less
part of the emerged alternative plan.  (I am intentionally avoiding
saying anything about this is simple or clearcut.)

Because of the above, people mostly do not use the phrase group home to
describe a place for elderly people with mild cognitive impairment,
dementia or mobility issues, because such people would not have been
"institutionalized" in the 60s, even if they were in a nursing home.

Do you have something like an en_US "group home" in the UK?

> Hence I think it does not belong in OSM, which ideally needs tagging
> to be understood worldwide by people for whom English is an additional
> language.

This is the central difficulty with tags :_) They are both something to
be intuitively understood, which is very difficult, and something that
has a precisely defined meaning, which is awkward when people think they
know what they mean and it differs from the formal definition.  By that
notion and the above en_US description, "group home" is probably
particularly troublesome and best avoided as a tag.
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