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Supported and sheltered housing

You may feel that you have reached a stage when living in your current home is becoming too difficult.

Perhaps you are struggling to get around the place, are no longer able to do everything for yourself, or are feeling a bit isolated and lonely.

At the same time you may not want to give up your independence and privacy, and don't need as much assistance as is offered in a care home or extra care housing. If this is the case, sheltered housing (sometimes known as retirement housing, and known in Westminster as Community Supportive Housing) may be the solution for you.

Sheltered housing schemes are properties for rent aimed at people over 60 years of age, although depending on where you live some schemes are available for slightly younger people. There is no upper age limit on who can live there. Tenants are generally able to do most things for themselves. They are often still quite active, want to be as independent as possible and come and go as they please. If a tenant does need some assistance with day to day tasks then they can arrange this as they would in any other accommodation.

Sheltered housing properties are usually self-contained, unfurnished, purpose-built flats, houses or bungalows with their own front doors, kitchens and bathrooms. They are usually designed to be easily accessible for people with wheelchairs or other mobility issues. Many schemes will have flats for couples, as well as one-bedroom and studio flats for single people.

There's often also a communal area where residents can socialise and organise and attend events and activities, and there will usually be a communal laundry and gardens.

In sheltered (or community supportive) accommodation there is often a property manager or scheme manager who lives on site. They will visit or call residents from time to time to make sure that they are well and comfortable, will address any concerns which they may have and offer advice, and can put them in touch with additional support when required.

In some accommodation there is not a manager living on site, but a locally-based team will regularly call on and check residents to make sure that they are okay.

Residents will also be provided with an alarm system so that they can call for help in an emergency at any time of the day or night - the scheme manager (or off-site team) will be the person who usually responds to an alarm call.

In some areas the council will arrange for this off-site checking service to take place in a person's own home so that they don't have to move to specialist sheltered housing. As with sheltered accommodation residents will be provided with an alarm system to call for help in an emergency.

If you move to a specialist sheltered or supported accommodation scheme you will have to pay rent on your flat, and sometimes an additional service charge which covers the services of the scheme manager, and general maintenance. If you are eligible for Universal Credit or Housing Benefit then you will be able to claim this towards the cost of your rent.

Sheltered and community supportive schemes are usually owned by your local council, or run by a housing association on behalf of the council. Tenants will have a secure tenancy with the same rights as other council tenants.

You will usually have to complete the same application form as you would for any council housing, but should tell them that you are particularly interested in sheltered and supported accommodation.You may then be visited by someone from the housing department to gather more information, and will be asked questions about your health, mobility, family situation and your finances, so that they can check if you are eligible for supported or sheltered accommodation and find a property that suits your needs.

Your local council provides more information on how sheltered and community supportive housing work in your area.

You can also look at this map to see where the extra care schemes are located across Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea.

Kensington and Chelsea


There are also a number of private providers of sheltered accommodation. These properties are usually purchased rather than rented.The Housing Care website allows you to search for available accommodation.

You will find that many high street estate agents will also advertise sheltered accommodation as it become available.

And the following property websites will often advertise private sheltered schemes which are for sale:-

Age UK provide independent advice on accessing sheltered housing schemes, and on your other housing options in older age.

Independent Age has advice and information for people considering a move to sheltered accommodation, either for themselves or for a relative. 

The Which website offers information on what to consider when thinking of moving to sheltered or supportive accommodation.

The Housing Care website has advice on sheltered accommodation.

Last updated: 13/07/2021