Sheltered housing can be a great option for you or a family member. Sometimes described as retirement housing, or sheltered accommodation, sheltered housing offers elderly residents a good combination of security, care, and independence. It provides a level of assisted living whilst keeping residents in the community. The types of living spaces offered varies greatly, from single bedroom flats to small bungalows. The key attraction is being able to live a normal life while having the safety net of carers or wardens nearby.
It won't be suitable for everyone, however, so let's take a look at some of the more salient issues you will have to take into consideration for you or your loved one.
Who is it For?
Sheltered housing tends to be aimed at elderly individuals who want to retain the independence of living at home, but with the knowledge that help is nearby if the need it. Usually this type of accommodation is made available to those 60 years of age and up, but there are some schemes which will consider individuals in their 50s. It should be kept in mind that sheltered housing schemes differ markedly from one another, and so does the level of care offered. If you are in need of around the clock medical attention or support, then other options may be more viable such as assisted living facilities or a care or nursing home.
What are the facilities offered? As mentioned above, sheltered housing schemes differ from one to the next, and as such, so do the services and facilities offered.
Facilities can include:
• Disabled Access: Many sheltered housing schemes, especially newly built facilities, will offer disabled access and accommodation which is equipped for those with specific physical requirements.
• 24 Hour Emergency Care Assistance: Most sheltered accommodation is equipped with an alarm system which can be activated by residents. This will put you immediately in touch with the emergency services, or members of staff.
• Scheme Manager or Warden: It is the responsibility of the scheme manager or warden to organise support for residents while maintaining and repairing the accommodation. It is not their duty to care directly for the residents, but a good scheme manager will get to know all of the residents and listen to any issues they might be having. Some will live nearby, while others will work office hours. They are not personal care assistants and cannot provide medication.
• Restaurants: Some of the bigger sheltered housing schemes may have a restaurant as part of the grounds.
• Guest Rooms: If you want family to stay often, then you might want sheltered accommodation which has access to shared guest rooms, which residents have to book in advance.
• Shared Garden and Common Room: Again, depending on the size of the sheltered scheme, there may be a shared private garden or a lounge/common room through which residents can socialise.
• Events: Some schemes organise events to help create a strong community spirit, and to let residents get to know each other.
To Buy, or To Rent?
Each scheme varies in size, normally from 20 – 40 properties per association. The vast majority are rented through local authorities, but there are also options to buy. The waiting lists for local authority accommodation, however, can be lengthy, and residents will have to meet certain requirements, including:
1. Their current accommodation being unsuitable for specific needs.
2. Having a medical requirement to move due to disability or illness.
3. Being unable to financially buy a property.
4. Needing to move nearer family for support.
For those looking to buy sheltered accommodation, it should be understood that most properties are sold as leasehold, and therefore have stipulations attached to them which will have to be verified legally, including when and to whom you can sell the accommodation. For more information please contact the Elderly Accomodation Counsel. If, on the other hand, you wish to apply to rent through a local authority, then you will be able to find the relevant contact details on the GOV.UK website.
Sheltered accommodation can be a brilliant option for those wishing to remain independent, but the realities of physical care, and the type of accommodation you have access to, are both going to play a massive part in the decision. If you feel after considering the above that sheltered accommodation is right for you, then it could be a great step towards being independent, whilst having real peace of mind knowing that your day to day life will be a good deal more comfortable.