What is extra care housing?

There are many different types of extra care housing, from small communities of flats and bungalows to retirement villages. It is sometimes known by other names:

  • Housing with Care
  • Very Sheltered Housing
  • Assisted Living

The facilities and care provided will vary from scheme to scheme, but extra care housing usually includes:

  • self-contained adapted flats or bungalows
  • on-site care and support staff, providing personal care and domestic services
  • emergency alarms throughout the scheme, with 24-hour help available
  • communal facilities and services, such as a lounge, dining area and garden

Our factsheet Extra care housing has more details about the types of extra care housing available.

Who is it for?

The eligibility criteria will depend on the scheme, but residents are usually:

  • aged 55 or over
  • able to live safely on their own with some support

If you are part of a couple and one of you has greater needs, extra care housing could make it possible for you to continue to live together.

Ask your local council for a care needs assessment if you think extra care housing might be the right choice for you.

 

Features

There are two key elements to extra care housing: where you will live, and the care and support services offered.

Accommodation

Each self-contained flat or bungalow is designed to be user-friendly and will usually have:

  • a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room
  • adaptations, such as handrails, a level access shower, lower worktops for wheelchair users
  • alarms throughout

Some larger extra care housing schemes may have facilities such as a hairdresser, GP practice or restaurant on site.

Care

The type of support will depend on your needs, which will usually be assessed by your local social services department. Care can include help with:

  • washing and dressing
  • managing your medication
  • using the toilet

Care may be provided by the local social services department, the housing provider or private home care agencies.

 

Advantages

There are many advantages to moving into extra care housing, including:

  • staying independent for longer
  • having your own living space
  • help available in an emergency
  • opportunities to socialise with other residents

It can be a good alternative to a care home.

Disadvantages

Extra care housing doesn’t suit everyone. Some disadvantages include:

  • strict eligibility criteria
  • the amount of care and support can vary from scheme to scheme
  • expensive service charges
  • if you buy, it may be difficult to sell the property later

Some people may find it difficult to adjust to living in housing aimed just at older people.

 

Finding a scheme

Extra care housing is available to rent or buy. There are many different providers.

If you want to rent:

Most schemes are run by local councils and housing associations. They will usually have strict eligibility criteria. Contact your local council’s social services department for details of schemes operating in your area.

If you are already a council or housing association tenant you may be able to transfer into a scheme.

Some private companies offer rental properties. 

If you want to buy:

A number of private companies sell extra care properties. Before you buy, you should ask as many questions as you need to about the services, facilities, charges and extras, and what is included.

There are also various ways to find out about quality checks and the standard of housing and care provided by an extra care housing scheme. See our factsheet for details.

If you want to move into a private scheme, you should still contact social services for a free care needs assessment.

Help with costs

If you are living on a low income, you may be eligible for Council Tax Support and Housing Benefit.

If the council decides you qualify for help with care after your care needs assessment, they should give you a means test to assess how much they will pay towards your care and how much you have to contribute.

Next steps

To find contact details for your local council go to gov.uk/find-your-local-council

 

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