Sheltered housing and accommodation is an important aspect of elderly care that enables elderly people to retain independence. It is different from other housing because a scheme manager or warden lives on the premises or nearby. They can be contacted through an alarm system if necessary. Some schemes are designed specifically for disabled people and may have specialised facilities and specially trained staff to provide support.
Sheltered housing schemes are usually run by local councils.
Hampshire council for example, will be responsible for sheltered housing in Southampton and also some local authority care homes in Southampton and other care provision in the county. Sheltered housing differs from your privately run Southampton care homes, with different council housing offices and housing associations have their own eligibility criteria. This should include a general assessment of your needs and there is often a waiting list for sheltered housing.
Extra care housing
Extra care housing is a type of sheltered housing that can offer care and support. It can be ideal for people who are less able to manage on their own. Extra care housing offers people the opportunity to live in a home of their own, even when they have high levels of care and support needs.
Extra care properties may be offered for rent or for sale, so some people are able to continue to own their own home. The services offered in addition to care and support vary between schemes with many having a restaurant and organising social activities and opportunities to learn new skills. There is usually a waiting list for extra care housing.
Sheltered housing with staff
Some housing association provide staff members, who sometimes live on site, provide support to people living in sheltered housing. The general responsibilities of a scheme manager may include:
- making regular checks on your well-being
- liaising with your local doctor and your relatives, if required
- managing the day-to-day running of the scheme
Sheltered housing affords people daily independent living in their own flats or bungalows. Normally, scheme managers or wardens do not provide care services for residents or carry out tasks like shopping or cleaning. You can still apply to social services for support (for example, having meals delivered to your home if you have problems cooking) if you live in sheltered accommodation. Your local authority social services department should be able to give you details about these. If you live in your own home but need extra support, for example, at a time of sickness or crisis, sheltered housing can sometimes be used as a short-term care solution.
Costs and service charges
To cover the cost of running the sheltered housing scheme, residents may have to pay a monthly service charge. This contributes towards paying for things like the scheme manager and building repairs. The amount you have to pay will vary, so always ask how much the service charge will be. It’s also important to check what the service charge does not cover. For example, heating may not be included. If you’re an owner-occupier, you may also be asked to pay ‘one-off’ payments to cover things like the cost of unexpected building repairs.
Choosing the best sheltered housing for you
It could be helpful to think about the following factors:
- how much is the service charge and how is it worked out?
- who is responsible for repairs, maintenance and improvements?
- are there any ground rent and insurance charges?
- are there any special clauses that could terminate the lease that are important to
be aware of?
- if applicable, what happens if you want to sell the property later on?
- what is the accommodation like?
- is a cooker or fridge provided?
- what kind of heating system is there?
- is there a communal entrance door and are there any security arrangements?
- what laundry facilities are available?
- are visiting health services available, for example, community nurses?
- what does the warden or care manager do and is there 24 hour cover?
If you want to know more about schemes in your own area, contact your local social services department at your local authority for more information on sheltered housing.