Sheltered and other special types of housing

Elderly sheltered housing is a type of accommodation that allows people over the age of 55 to live in self-contained flats or bungalows, aided by support workers and sometimes a warden, but do not include nursing care. There are often communal areas for the residents such as a garden, laundry room and lounge, which enable elderly residents to retain their independence and enjoy the company of their neighbours. 

All accommodation should also provide 24-hour emergency help in case there is an urgent need for assistance. Sheltered housing is often seen as an alternative to residential care homes

For those requiring more support, ‘extra care’ sheltered housing is sometimes available. Extra care sheltered housing offers self-contained homes with special design features, e.g. special bathroom facilities. In addition, so residents can continue to be independent, a greater level of care and support is offered such as extra wardens, full-time carers or domiciliary assistance and provision of meals. It is also known as 'very sheltered housing', 'housing with care', 'retirement communities', 'villages', or ‘assisted living’. Sometimes it’s possible to own or part own extra care accommodation.

Another type of elderly sheltered housing is an ‘almshouse’. These are run by charitable trusts, with each charity having a policy on who will be assisted (e.g. those retired from a particular trade, those living in a specific area, etc.) There are also Abbeyfield societies - voluntary organisations that provide a smaller, more family-orientated style of sheltered housing for around 8 to 12 elderly residents.

Sheltered Housing Costs

The cost of living in sheltered housing is made up of separate parts, which include:

    • Service charge for communal services
    • Rent for individual property
    • Heating costs
    • Costs for housing related support provided by support workers

For specific sheltered housing fees, please contact the relevant sheltered housing provider. You can search for and find the contact details for local sheltered housing providers on the Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) website.

If you would like to know more about sheltered or extra care housing, contact your Local Authority to find out if this type of accommodation is available in your area and what the criteria for applying are. Make sure to check if the care services provided match your needs. For example, will you need extra care sheltered housing? Your medical assessment will help you determine this and your means test should answer questions regarding your eligibility for state-funding. Find out more about care need assessment and eligibility for state funding.