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Assisted living and sheltered accommodation

Assisted living, sheltered accommodation and extra-care housing provide varying levels of care to support residents to continue to live independently. There are private and publicly funded assisted living schemes where residents live in individual rooms, houses, or apartments.

Assisted living and sheltered housing

Assisted living facilities provide a home-like setting and are designed to promote residents’ independence. Some are specially adapted to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities.

Sheltered housing

Sheltered housing schemes provide a range of facilities to allow residents to continue to live independently with onsite support in case of emergencies. They are usually self-contained flats, houses, or room units, with a warden or scheme manager living on site or close by who can be called upon in case of emergency.

In addition to accommodation there can be communal facilities such as laundries, gardens and common rooms and a programme of organised social events. The level of support varies between individual schemes. Some schemes are specially designed for those with disabilities and facilities have been adapted to accommodate those requirements.

Sheltered housing can be provided by a local authority, and this decision is determined by an assessment. Councils offering sheltered housing have differing criteria for eligibility and there can often be a waiting list.


Wardens and scheme managers can provide the following services:

  • Regular checks on residents’ well-being
  • Liaising with local doctors and relatives, if required
  • Managing the day-to-day running of the scheme

Wardens and scheme managers do not usually provide:

  • Care services - though you can apply for this support to be delivered to your home, for example home meal services
  • Shopping
  • Cleaning

If the person you care for lives in their own home but needs extra support, for example, at a time of sickness or crisis, sheltered housing can sometimes be used as a short-term care solution.

Extra-care housing

This is sometimes known as assisted living housing and offers a greater level of support to that of sheltered accommodation. Extra-care housing offers residents the opportunity to remain in a home of their own, even when they require a greater level of support and care. Residents live in self-contained flats or units where meals, personal care and domestic support are provided by professional care staff.

Extra-care housing can be provided by a local authority and this decision is determined by an assessment. Councils have different levels of services in their extra-care schemes, with some providing meals and social activities. Councils set their own criteria for eligibility into a scheme and it’s important to note there can often be long waiting lists. Researching this option well in advance of taking up residency is advised. 

Evaluating housing options

When visiting an extra-care or sheltered housing scheme, it may be helpful to consider the following:

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