Housing options to suit your needs
Finding suitable housing, or adapting your current home, can make a huge difference to your quality of life, whether you need support yourself or are caring for someone else. Your local authority may be able to help you better understand your housing needs.
As local authorities now have a duty to assess anyone who appears to have care and support needs under the Care Act 2014, your local authority should:
- assess your needs and give you advice, whatever your financial circumstances
- provide information about services and support options available to you in your area
- give you a carer's assessment if you are an unpaid/family carer
The assessment by the local authority is important because it will help you work out what your difficulties are and consider what support options, including your housing arrangement, you might have.
Below is a range of housing options that you might want to consider. These include moving to a more appropriate setting or residence or making adaptations to your current home. All may be appropriate whether you own your own home or rent from a private or social landlord. It is important that you take account of any financial implications and consequences for you.
If you prefer, you can go straight to housing options for younger adults with a disability.
Housing options for older people
You or the person you are looking after may be finding it difficult to manage in your own home or would prefer to move somewhere else. You may want to live somewhere smaller and easier to maintain, or you may want to live somewhere more suited to your physical needs, such as a bungalow. You may prefer to live nearer family or friends, or have easier access to facilities such as transport and leisure. You may want to live in a community where you retain your independence but where care and support are available on site if you need them or if you might require them in future.
While buying or renting a different property, or moving into a care home might be the first options that spring to mind, there are many others you could consider when making a decision to move that might suit you better now and for the future.
Some examples are listed below.
- Exchanging council or housing association property
- Sheltered housing
- Extra care housing
- Close care
- Retirement villages
If you are having problems with your current home, Housing Options for Older People is an online tool you can use to help you identify the most important difficulties and offers suggestions for dealing with them.
EAC First Stop Advice
Call for free: 0800 377 7070
EAC FirstStop Advice is an independent, free telephone service offering advice and information to older people, their families and carers about housing and care options for later life.
Exchanging council or housing association property
Your council or housing association may be able to help you find more suitable accommodation by arranging an exchange or "swap" for other council or housing association property.
You may want to consider factors such as the new location, accessibility and the cost of renting the exchanged housing. Ask the relevant local authority or housing association for details of any schemes in your area.
Sheltered housing is designed for people who are normally able to live quite independently, but need occasional help or support from time to time. Often sheltered housing will have a warden who can be called in an emergency, and other security features such as emergency alarm systems. Sheltered housing properties may also have communal facilities such as a laundry, lounge and garden, as well as offering social activities and events. The level of support on offer will vary depending on the individual scheme.
Sheltered housing may be provided by a local authority or can be bought or rented privately. It's important to check whether there are service charges and if so, how large they are, and also whether there are any rules that could impact on you, such as rules around keeping pets for example.
A homeshare scheme is where someone who needs a small amount of help to live independently in their own home is matched with someone who needs somewhere to live and can provide support or companionship.
Homeshare schemes arrange the matching process between someone who typically lives at home but has developed some support needs or has become isolated or anxious about living alone, with the 'homesharer'; someone who is in need of housing and can provide a level of practical support to the other person. This is different from shared lives schemes, where the person who needs support will usually move into another person's home.
Usually no rent is charged, but the household bills are shared, and in return the homesharer will help out around the house, for example by cooking meals, running errands, shopping trips and providing company.
Find out more and see if there's a homeshare scheme near you at SharedLivesPlus.
Extra care housing
Extra care housing (which could also be called "assisted living" or "very sheltered housing") offers a greater level of support than sheltered accommodation. Residents of extra care housing live in self-contained flats, but may have services provided to them by on-site staff, such as meals or personal care and domestic support and there are likely to be communal areas for those who wish to use them.
You do not have to sign-up to receive care and support when you first move in and the level of assistance can be increased as your needs change. Most extra care housing schemes also have communal areas such as lounges and cafes.
Extra care is largely provided to rent or buy, but it may be an option to discuss with your local authority if you meet the eligibility criteria.
For more information about how extra care housing is designed, managed, and funded - including case studies on some of the latest and best schemes on the Housing LIN website.
"Close care" is a term used to describe housing for older people that is near or adjacent to a care home. The care home provides personal care services to the residents and often allows for a future move to the care home if needed. This form of housing can sometimes be a good option for couples who have different needs.
Retirement villages can consist of a large-scale development of bungalows, flats or houses designed for the needs of older people. Many of these retirement complexes will include a care home and a number of communal facilities.
Housing options for younger adults with a disability
Teenagers and young adults with special needs or disabilities may want - or need - greater independence as they get older. But they are also likely to have care needs which mean they need alternative housing options. Those care needs may be related to, for example, physical or mental health problems, a learning disability, or drug or alcohol misuse. There are a variety of housing options they may want to consider:
- Buying or renting an adapted property
- Sheltered housing schemes for younger people
- Supported housing in the community
- Supported living services
- Shared lives schemes
Buying or renting an adapted property
If they have physical health problems, for example, the local authority could help to find a property which has already been adapted in a way that meets their needs. Alternatively, they may be able to get a housing grant to cover any adaptations which need to be made.
Sheltered housing schemes for younger people
Although many sheltered housing schemes are specifically for older people, there are some that cater to the needs of younger disabled adults. These homes are designed for independent living but have extra facilities such as a warden who can be called in an emergency, or communal facilities such as a laundry and lounge.
Supported housing in the community
Some young adults will only require a small amount of support when at home, and may go to college, work or day centres during the day. A wide variety of housing options is available for these more independent adults. Some supported housing is managed by the local authority, and some by housing associations, voluntary organisations and charities which run the units to meet particular needs, such as adults with learning disabilities.
Supported living services
Supported living services aim to keep people in the community with as much independence as possible but with appropriate support. They may include providing suitable or adapted accommodation - which can be your own home - and some forms of personal care. This kind of support may benefit someone who wants to continue living where they are or who is moving elsewhere, such as to a hostel or shared accommodation of some type.
Services that support independent living may include help to access training and employment, help with claiming benefits or social skills. They could also include life skills such as healthy eating and budgeting. Supported living services don't usually include personal and health care, such as help with washing and taking medication, so these need to be arranged separately as part of the care plan.
To find out if someone is eligible for supported living, they will need to be assessed by their local authority.
Shared lives - sometimes known as "adult placement" - matches adults with care and support needs with people who act as a carer to give them help and support.
In many cases the adult will live with someone who acts as their carer in the carers own home. This could be a long-term placement or a short stay, such as following a period in hospital. In some cases, the carer will support someone who continues to live in their own home, but the carer will act as a family member, providing a consistent relationship and emotional support.
Find out more about shared lives schemes.
Making adaptations to your current home
Minor adaptations costing less than £1,000 are provided by local authorities at no charge, if you are assessed as needing them. Minor adaptations include:
- grab rails to make it safer to get in and out of a bath
- blocks to make beds higher
- raised toilet seats and bath seats
In some cases you may be asked to pay costs associated with these changes, such as maintenance charges. If you disagree with the decision about a minor adaptation, use the local authority's complaints procedure.
If the adaptation costs more than £1,000, you may be eligible for a disabled facilities grant to help pay for it. This could include bigger changes, such as:
- widening doors and installing ramps
- improving access to rooms and facilities, such as stair lifts or a downstairs bathroom
- providing a heating system suitable for your needs
- adapting heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use
A disabled facilities grant will not affect any benefits that you're getting. Find out more on GOV.UK: disabled facilities grants.
Landlords duty to make "reasonable adjustments"
Under the Equality Act 2010, there is a duty for landlords to make "reasonable adjustments" for tenants with disabilities.
Your landlord doesn't have to make changes which affect the structure or which would substantially and permanently alter the building. For example, they don't have to remove walls, widen doorways or install permanent ramps. But there are some things they must do to adapt your home if you're disabled and if it's reasonable to do so.
For example, you can ask your landlord to do the following things under the Equality Act:
- remove, replace or provide any furniture, furnishings, materials or equipment, as long as it would not become a permanent fixture when installed
- replace or provide signs or notices
- replace taps or door handles
- replace, provide or adapt your door bell or door entry system
- change the colour of any surface - for example, a wall or a door
- changing practices, policies and procedures - for example, allowing an assistance dog in a place that normally doesn't allow pets
To find out more, see the Citizen's Advice Bureau guide on discrimination in housing.
- Find out what equipment, aids and adaptations can help you stay in your home for longer and how to get care at home (homecare).
- Find out about how changing the home environment can help someone who has dementia to feel more comfortable.
- Find out how innovations in housing can improve the lives of people with dementia by creating dementia-friendly communities and supporting independent living.
Article provided by NHS Choices