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Moving to specialist housing, where help or care is at hand

The UK has a wide range of housing purpose designed for older people and where help or care can be called on when needed. Developments (or ‘schemes’) typically include 20 – 50 properties, though more recent ‘retirement villages’ may have 300 or more. Whilst villages are likely to be remote from town or city life, most schemes are built close to social, transport and shopping facilities.

Sheltered housing

Sometimes referred to as retirement housing, this offers a well designed home of your own plus communal facilities and some services. Most schemes comprise flats, but bungalow estates exist too. Newer schemes usually offer 1, 2 and sometimes 3 bedroom properties; older ones may include some studio (one room) flats.

The facilities may include a residents’ lounge, a visitors’ room, a communal garden and a laundry. Typically the scheme will have a full- or part-time manager whose job includes providing support and advice to residents. Properties may be bought or rented.

Many sheltered schemes have a social dimension. Residents and/or scheme managers may organise regular coffee mornings, bingo, whist drives, entertainments, religious services or outings.

More about sheltered housing

Find sheltered housing in your area

Assisted living and extra-care housing

A relatively new option, assisted living and extra care schemes provide a more intensive level of support than traditional sheltered housing for older people who need some personal care or other types of help, but who are otherwise able to live safely and independently on their own. There will usually be at least one member of staff on hand 24 hours a day.

Additional facilities are often available to cater for people who are not able to get out regularly, perhaps including a restaurant, shop, gym, hobby room, and so on. Activities may be arranged regularly, as in sheltered housing, commonly with an emphasis on improving or maintaining residents’ health and wellbeing. Some schemes are able to continue caring for people who develop dementia.

Similar schemes may also be called very sheltered, close care or continuing care communities.

More about assisted living and extra care

Find assisted living and extra care housing in your area


FirstStop Advice Line 0800 377 70 70

from mobiles/overseas +44 203 519 6002

Call to discuss your requirements with one of our expert Advisors, or email to request a call back at a time that suits you.
FirstStop can:
  • Provide a checklist How well does your home suit you? to help you weigh up pros and cons
  • Explain what services are available in each type of retirement housing
  • Provide a copy of our Guide to Housing and Care Options
  • Provide a personal Housing Options Report containing detailed information on all schemes that meet your requirements
  • Introduce you to the FirstStop Moving Home Service
Advice Line open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
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