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Independent living with support

Sheltered housing - independent living with support

Sheltered housing means living independently, still having your own front door, but with the reassurance that help is nearby in the event of an emergency. It's also known as supported or retirement housing.

Sheltered housing doesn't usually offer help with personal care tasks such as washing and dressing, but there are some extra care housing schemes available that do provide this additional support for residents. These schemes are described in the next section.

Sheltered housing schemes vary but most will provide:

  • self-contained flats with kitchen and bathroom
  • 24-hour emergency assistance through an alarm system
  • on site or off site warden or manager
  • security and safety features
  • laundry
  • communal lounge
  • optional social activities
  • communal gardens
  • guest room for overnight visitors

As all schemes are different, it is important to think about any specific needs or preferences such as:

  • size of accommodation
  • facilities offered
  • whether a manager lives on or off site and how often they are available
  • procedure for emergencies
  • available parking
  • whether pets are allowed

Other considerations when looking at sheltered housing include:

  • service charges and other bills
  • re-sale value of the accommodation
  • possible limited choice in your preferred area
  • rules or restrictions

To find properties in your area, visit the Elderly Accommodation Council (EAC) or Retirement Homesearch.

If you would like to apply for any of the affordable housing options, you will need to complete a housing application form to have your name placed on the register. You can join Dorset Home Choice online.

Complete a housing application

Extra care housing

Extra care housing is being able to live independently with support. It is also known as assisted living, enhanced sheltered housing or very sheltered housing. Extra care housing is suitable if you have problems with mobility or memory loss.

Residents receive support with a range of tasks including bathing, meal preparation and housework.

Accommodation within a purpose built complex can be bought or rented and may be cheaper than a care or nursing home.

The comparison chart below shows some of the differences between extra care housing and a care or nursing home:

Extra care housing

Care home or nursing home 

Buy own property within the complex and pay for additional care if you need it

Renting a room, with access to communal areas; food and care costs added on top

Continue to purchase and cook own food or food can be provided

Food provided

Come and go as you please

May need permission to leave - or need to let staff know where you are going

Can live together with a partner

Residents live alone in a room

Severe care needs are not catered for

A range of acute care needs are catered for

Need to pay outright for a placement, but can use benefits or pension towards care costs

Care can be subsidised by the government (means tested and within guidelines)

Extra care housing may be available if you are over 50 and in need of extra care and support to remain independent.

Extra Care housing schemes are available to rent from private landlords, Housing Associations or charitable organisations. The Elderly Accommodation Council (EAC) has a search facility to help find these.

To find out if you are eligible for Extra care housing, you can complete a housing application form and your name will be placed on the register join Dorset Home Choice online.

Complete a housing application

Housing options for people with a learning or physical disability

Sheltered housing and extra care housing are not just for older people. They may be suitable if you are a younger person with a physical or learning disability.

You might be able to use your direct payment or personal budget to pay for additional care if it is not already given.

Some extra care schemes have been designed especially for disabled people.

Supported living

Supported Living is mainly for adults with care and support needs. It can be provided in a flat or house you rent or share.

The aim of Supported Living is to increase your independence over time. It does this by providing a package of support. This varies with individual need and ability and could be from a few hours a week to 24 hour support. Examples of support include:

  • managing a home and money
  • personal care and help with tasks such as shopping and cooking
  • accessing education opportunities
  • finding voluntary or paid employment
  • taking part in social and leisure activities and community life

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Shared Lives

Dorset Shared Lives is an alternative to supported living, domiciliary care and residential care homes for adults with care and support needs. It was previously known as ‘adult placement’. A Shared Lives carer and someone who needs support get to know each other and, if they both feel that they will be able to form a long-term bond, they share family and community life. This can mean that the person becomes a regular daytime or overnight visitor to the Shared Lives carer's household, or it means that the person moves in with the Shared Lives carer.

Shared Lives carers receive payment for the care and support that they provide, and where they provide long-term accommodation they will also be landlord and be paid rent.

Shared Lives schemes have to be registered with the Care Quality Commission if they provide the regulated activity of personal care, as is the case in Dorset. Dorset Council employ Shared Lives workers whose role includes recruitment, vetting, training and support of Shared Lives carers. It is the scheme’s provision of personal care that is regulated, not the individual accommodation which is owned or rented by Shared Lives carers.

The Shared Lives Team is led by a Registered Manager who is responsible for ensuring that the scheme is compliant with the regulations. A Nominated Individual is responsible for supervising the management of the regulated activity provided. 

Shared Lives Schemes nationally provide good value for money and are consistently judged to be high-performing services by the Care Quality Commission. If you want to know more, the Shared Lives Plus website provides an insight into how great Shared Lives is.