Difficulty finding the info you need? Contact EAC FirstStop Advice on 0800 377 7070 or email us your question

Sheltered housing

Sheltered housing (also known as retirement housing) means having your own flat or bungalow in a block, or on a small estate, where all the other residents are older people (usually over 55). With a few exceptions, all developments (or 'schemes') provide independent, self-contained homes with their own front doors. Referred to in our Accommodation Directory as 'housing with support'.

There are many different types of scheme, both to rent or to buy. They usually contain between 15 and 40 properties, and range in size from studio flats (or 'bedsits') through to 2 and 3 bedroomed.

Properties in most schemes are designed to make life a little easier for older people - with features like raised electric sockets, lowered worktops, walk-in showers, and so on. Some will usually be designed to accommodate wheelchair users. And they are usually linked to an emergency alarm service (sometimes called 'community alarm service') to call help if needed.

Many schemes also have their own 'manager' or 'warden', either living on-site or nearby, whose job is to manage the scheme and help arrange any services residents need. Managed schemes will also usually have some shared or communal facilities such as a lounge for residents to meet, a laundry, a guest flat and a garden.

New forms of sheltered housing have been pioneered in recent years, to cater for older people who are becoming more frail and less able to do everything for themselves. These are known as extra care or very sheltered schemes. Most properties in these schemes will suit less mobile people and wheelchair users, and bathrooms particularly will be designed to make it easier for assistance to be offered. Schemes may have their own care staff, and will usually provide one or more meals each day, if required.

Our Retirement Homes & Sheltered Housing Directory contains details of almost all sheltered schemes in the UK.

back to full glossary