What is sheltered housing

What is sheltered housing?

4 min read |
Alistair Clay Author

Author 07.03.2024

Alistair Clay

If your loved one is looking to live independently, you may be wondering “what is sheltered housing?” and how can it help?

Sheltered housing is different from a care home as it allows people to be self-reliant but have the safety of residential support.

It gives people the chance to form communities and socialise which can help combat loneliness and improve wellbeing.

This article will cover “what is sheltered housing” and how it can support your lifestyle in later life.

Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover:

  • Sheltered housing is tailored accommodation that supports independent and social living for elderly people. 
  • It’s best for people who have minimal care needs, as there are no on-site care services like personal care.
  • This type of housing has general safety features to residents such as alarm systems and security. 
  • There are a number of private and council sheltered housing schemes, but you might have to meet certain criteria to be eligible.
What is sheltered housing for elderly

What is sheltered housing?

Sheltered housing is a self-contained property to help promote independent living for people over the age of 55. 

Residents will have their own flat, with access to staff who maintain the accommodation and safeguard residents. 

There is also access to communal facilities like a lounge and garden which can be shared amongst neighbours.

It may also include the option of organised social activities like bingo and shopping trips.

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Why do people live in sheltered housing?

People may choose this option if they are elderly or have a disability but want to stay living independently.

This type of housing provides alternative support for people who need some help, but not necessarily full time care.

With the environment that sheltered housing creates, people can feel part of a safe community and regularly socialise with others.

Which plays a role in tackling the issue of loneliness in older people who may have otherwise ended up living alone.

assisted living care staff

Is sheltered housing the same as assisted living?

If you’re looking into the question ‘what is sheltered housing?’ you may have come across the term assisted living.

Assisted living is another form of housing for older people who want to live in a retirement community that caters to their needs. 

It tends to offer a higher level of care than other schemes, which only provide minimal support.

So if your loved one needs more personalised care and help at home, they may be better off looking for an assisted living facility.

Community in sheltered housing

Who is sheltered housing for?

Sheltered housing supports elderly residents or people with disabilities so that they can live as they wish to.

It’s suitable for people who live fairly independently, but who may occasionally need support. 

But it’s not really an option for people who need regular supervision and attendance to personal or health care needs.

That being said, the level of support will likely vary with each scheme, so be sure to research your options.

What are the features of sheltered housing?

It commonly features 24-hour security and an in-home alarm system to ensure the safety of residents. 

Plus home safety adaptations to assist residents may be installed, such as grab rails or lifts to support mobility needs.

Residents can also do their laundry and cater for themselves, ensuring they can maintain their independence in everyday living.

Communal spaces also offer a support system for all residents and can help people learn how to cope with loneliness.

housing for older people

Choosing sheltered housing

Does sheltered housing sound like the best option for your loved one to live independently in a safe community?

The next step is making an application to your local scheme through your local council.

Remember that there may be eligibility criteria which you will be assessed against in your application.

Which may include being over a certain age (normally over 55)  to apply for a sheltered housing space.

mistakes on attendance allowance application form

How to apply for sheltered housing?

Once you’ve found your local authority, you’ll be directed to the relevant council pages to apply for a local scheme. 

Some people are given priority to sheltered housing if their social care needs meet the council’s eligibility criteria.  

Be aware that there might be a wait before you can get access to sheltered housing through the council because of this.

Finding a sheltered housing scheme

When you apply there might be a few options to choose from in your area.

You can go to your local council or housing association for details about available schemes to find one that fits your needs.

Plus, get information about the services they offer, what it will cost, and if there’s any funding that you can apply for.

It’s also important to be aware of any service charges, and rules that can impact you, like if you are allowed pets.

Why should I choose sheltered housing?

Sheltered housing can be the best option if you are looking for social-based housing and don’t need full-time care. 

You can also claim state benefits like housing benefit and other financial benefits for elderly if you live in sheltered housing.

Or if you have other needs the council may provide living support for those living in sheltered accommodation. 

Is sheltered housing for everyone?

Sheltered housing won’t work for everyone, especially those who need full-time care. 

So, it’s good to be realistic about your loved one’s care needs especially if they have changing care needs.

Seeking alternative arrangements such as home care visits is a way for your loved one to stay independent at home.

If you want to know more about ‘What is domiciliary care?’ don’t miss this essential article.

Other care options

Another option to consider is getting help for elderly at home where a carer regularly visits your loved one.

Some elderly people may prefer living where they are, and they may be used to living alone in their home. 

So opting for daily visits from a care provider could be a solution to keep everyone happy and cared for.

You can expect to pay a home care agency between £20-£30 for hourly visits, so it may be cheaper than sheltered housing.

My loved one needs care

Assisted Living

Assisted living or extra-care housing could be another option if your loved one requires a bit more care.

This type of care can assist residents with their personal and care needs and offer them social comfort.

Always check the CQC registration and rating when you are looking to find the best care for your loved one. 

If you want to know ‘What is the CQC?’, you can find out more in our article.

Live-in care

If your loved one prefers the comfort of their own home, but has substantial care needs, live-in care may be needed. 

This is when the care worker moves in with you, to support you night and day and to help whenever you need it.

For more complicated health needs and constant supervision, this can be an alternative to moving to residential care.

You might also consider a live-in housekeeper who can run errands and support with domestic work, but can’t provide care.

Care at home

Thinking about getting care?

Don’t leave it too late to think about the care your loved one needs.

Waiting till a crisis strikes can leave you feeling frenzied.

Start your loved one’s journey by getting the right care and learn how to manage their needs through Sweet Pea.

Just click below to get started.


Alistair Clay Author

Author 07.03.2024

Alistair Clay

Alistair is a founding Director of Sweet Pea Care and the Managing Director of social care communications agency Arc Seven where he advises some of the UK’s biggest care providers.