Extra care housing

Extra care housing is designed with the needs of frailer, older people in mind. Each housing site is different with varying levels of care and support available. People who live in housing with care have their own self-contained homes, their own front doors and a legal right to occupy the property. Extra care housing is also known as sheltered housing, assisted living, or housing with care.

It comes in many forms, including blocks of flats, bungalow estates and retirement villages. It is a popular choice among older people because it can provide an alternative to a care home.

The below short film, produced by Warwickshire County Council in partnership with Housing and Care 21, has been published to promote extra care housing in Warwickshire.

Watch this video on YouTube

There are many different models but the principles are the same for all:

  • In essence, extra care housing is a modern-day version of sheltered housing but with one big difference – a team of carers are on site and on call 24 hours a day.
  • Developments offer ‘supported independence’ to older people in purpose-built, self-contained flats or bungalows, each with its own front door.
  • Developments can be rented, shared ownership, owned, or a mixed tenure.
  • Some homes have two bedrooms and are suitable for couples and ‘significant others’.
  • Extra care housing can accommodate people with varying levels of care need.
  • Some people think of extra care housing as ‘future proofing’ – so they are in the right place if they need more help and support later on.
  • Schemes usually have communal facilities and a social dimension, but joining in is entirely optional.

The idea is to give residents more choice and control than traditional residential care can offer, in a safe and secure environment, free from loneliness or isolation.

Benefits of extra care housing

  • Residents live at home, not in a home.
  • People are supported in maintaining their independence.
  • Residents have their own front door and decide who comes in.
  • Married couples and ‘significant others’ can stay together.
  • There is a mix of people with low, medium and high level care needs.
  • 24-hour care and support is on hand as and when it’s needed.
  • Social activities are available – for those who choose to join in.
  • Residents feel safer and more secure in purpose-built developments.
  • They keep control of their own finances and decide how to live their lives.

Frequently asked questions

I am managing on my own, but my health is not good and I want to move. Would this type of housing be suitable for me?
Yes. Most housing schemes have a mix of more independent and able residents together with those who are very frail. Some people will be getting a lot of care and support, where others will be living more independently.

The accommodation will be accessible and it should be easy for you to manage.

I have a learning disability and live with my parents but they are growing older so I would like to get my own place, but need support with my needs – will this work for me?
Yes. Your individual needs and requirements can be assessed and matched against the upcoming developments.

I live in residential care but would like more independence, choice and control. Can I move into extra care housing?
Yes. Your individual needs and requirements can be assessed and matched against the upcoming developments.

I own my own home, but my friend is a council tenant. Could we both move into extra care housing?
Yes. Some schemes offer homes to buy, others offer only rented accommodation, some are a mixture of owner-occupiers and tenants.

I already live in ordinary sheltered housing – how would extra care housing be different?
The main difference is that care and support staff is on the premises 24-hours a day. There is also a restaurant, social activities and other facilities on site.

Different types of accommodation are available too, and there is a mix of residents with different support needs.

Your tenancy or ownership of your home is secure – you should not have to move if your needs change.

My husband is very unwell and we get a lot of help from our family and friends. Could we move together?
Yes. You and your husband can stay together and your family and friends can continue to help as before if they want to, with the added support of the housing with care staff. You may even make new friends too!

My doctor has said I should go into a home. What are the advantages of housing with care over a nursing or care home?
Housing with care shouldn’t look or feel like any different from when you move home.

You will have your own home, control over your finances, and privacy and choice about how much you mix with the other residents. You have your own front door and you are living at home, not in a home.

The care staff will support you in looking after yourself for as long as possible, and you can keep up your usual routines and activities in the local area.

What happens if my health gets worse?
There may be times when you need a lot of care and support, times when you need no support or a mixture of the two.

The care staff should be flexible and sensitive in asking you about what you need. They cannot give you nursing care, but they will aim to support you to stay living in the same place.

My mother has early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Can she move into extra care housing?
Possibly. Your mother’s individual needs and requirements can be assessed and matched against the upcoming developments. Most people who develop dementia after moving into housing with care can continue to be supported in their familiar home surroundings by staff and friends as before. Some schemes have a special wing for new residents with dementia; others mix residents with different needs across the whole scheme.

What facilities and services are available on-site?
The facilities range from restaurants and lounges to hobby rooms, shops, hairdressers and keep fit suites. Sometimes the local day centre, health services and other groups are based there, for example, a GP surgery, a district nurse or welfare benefits advice. People from the surrounding area may also come in to use the facilities and resources.

What I will pay for living in extra care housing?
As with any other rented property you will pay rent and service charges to your landlord.

If you have capital/savings under the Income Threshold (excluding the value of your home) you will be offered a full Financial Assessment from Warwickshire County Council. This will determine whether there are any additional Welfare Benefits, such as Attendance Allowance, which you are entitled to claim and what the assessed maximum weekly contribution you will be asked to pay towards the cost of your care.

You will also be responsible for paying individual utility bills, contents insurance, telephone connections and bills and meal costs if these are not provided as an integral part of your tenancy.

Who is in charge of extra care housing?
Most housing projects are built and run by housing associations. Some are run by private companies or the local council. Usually, the care staff work under a contract from the local social care services department.

How do I complain if I am dissatisfied with the service I receive?
All housing providers and care Providers have their own complaints procedures which they will be able to tell you about. You can also make a complaint through the Warwickshire County Council or directly to the Care Quality Commission.

Can I stay until I die?
Extra care housing aims to provide you with a home for life.

However, this may not always be possible, for example if you become a risk to yourself or others.

What if I have a dog or cat?
Schemes are pet friendly and are usually happy to accept a pet providing it does not cause nuisance to other residents. Dogs must be exercised outside the schemes grounds and not be allowed to foul within the grounds.

What if I have to buy more furniture/furnishings or a fridge?
You may be eligible to apply for a Community Care Grant through the Social Fund if you need to buy flooring furniture, furnishings, utensils or household appliances. Forms can be collected from Job Centre Plus offices or phone 0845 608 8616 to arrange for one to be sent out to you.

Is there a scheme in my area?
There are schemes already in place or planned across the county. For information on housing with care in your area, contact Warwickshire County Council on 01926 410410.

Can I visit a scheme before making any decisions?
Of course! Contact the Scheme Manager(s) to arrange a visit. If you are offered a tenancy you will be invited to view the apartment before being asked to sign a tenancy.