Commonly known as Assisted Living or Extra Care housing, these schemes provide a more intensive level of support than traditional sheltered housing. They are intended for older people who need some personal care or other types of help, but who are otherwise able to live safely and independently on their own. There will usually be at least one member of staff on-hand 24 hours a day.
Comprehensive on-site facilities are usually provided, such as a restaurant, shop, gym and hobby room. Activities may be arranged regularly, as in sheltered housing, commonly with an emphasis on improving or maintaining residents’ health and wellbeing.
Similar schemes may also be called very sheltered, close care or retirement communities.
Housing with on-site care
One of the main selling points for housing-with-care communities is the availability of on-site care services, provided by a registered care agency. People living in the community can arrange a package of care with the agency directly, often at a lower hourly cost than if they were living in the community.
For some people, housing-with-care can provide an effective alternatively to a care home. Allowing them to retain a greater degree of independence whilst also having access to personal care. However it should be noted that complex care needs, such as challenging behaviour caused by dementia, can not always be met in a housing-with-care environment and a move to a care home may be necessary.
There are over 1500 specialist housing developments in the UK with on-site care facilities. You can find details for each of these by using the HousingCare accommodation search facility.
The majority of properties are to rent from social landlords, such as housing associations and councils. To be considered for these vacancies it is usually necessary to register yourself with the Adult Social Care team or Housing department at your local council.
There are also almost 500 developments where properties can be purchased privately. It is important to seek legal and financial advice when purchasing a property within a retirement community as there are various terms, tenures and charges that you may not be familiar with.
The cost of Housing-with-Care
There are two main costs associated with living in an Assisted Living/Extra Care housing development, housing costs (rent, purchase price, service charges etc) and care costs (for on-site care services). Your care costs will vary depending on the amount and type of care you require, your ongoing housing costs will be set out in your lease or tenancy agreement.
If you are struggling to meet your care costs then you may be eligible for assistance from your local authority, by requesting an assessment of your needs and finances from the Adult Social Care team. You might also consider applying for Attendance Allowance, a state benefit that does not consider your finances.
For help with housing costs, those who rent may be able to get support through Housing Benefit, paid by your local authority. If you own your home and are struggling with service charges then you may wish to explore your entitlement to Pension Credit,a benefit for people of pensionable age that will take your finances into account.
Read more about state benefits, in our factsheet on Benefits for people of retirement age.
Trade bodies and further information
The main industry body for the housing-with-care sector is the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO). Their members have agreed to comply with their comprehensive code of practice and they strive for high quality retirement communities.
You can read more about ARCO on their website.
You can also read more about housing-with-care in our Extra Care Housing factsheet.