What is extra care housing?
Extra care housing (also known as ‘very sheltered housing’, ‘assisted living’ or ‘close care’) is a form of sheltered housing with a higher level of support: help with personal care is available to those who need it.
Care staff, sometimes employed by local councils, care agencies or social landlords, can visit residents in their flats to help with getting in and out of bed, washing and dressing. They might also help with cleaning or provide meals. Care staff are sometimes based onsite (for example, if the accommodation is part of a care home complex), but can also be community based, and are typically available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It’s common within extra care housing for all residents to have to pay a minimum contribution towards care services, regardless of whether they require any support themselves. So, it’s advisable to enquire about these charges and the typical costs for higher levels of care, should you need them in the future.
What are the different types of extra care sheltered housing?
If you’re keen to explore the idea of extra care housing, there are several different types of tenure or ownership to consider.
- Rented only: all residents rent their property from the housing provider. There will be a weekly or monthly rent and usually an additional service charge. There may be charges for additional services, such as care and meals.
- Leasehold only: all residents have bought the property from the housing provider and pay a monthly service charge. There might also be additional care charges, so check before purchasing.
- Mixed tenure: some residents have bought the lease and some residents are renting from the housing provider. Both tenants and leaseholders are eligible for the same personal care and support services if they meet the criteria or are paying for the services.
- Close care: retirement accommodation attached to a care home, with residents buying in meals/care as needed.
- Shared ownership: some sheltered and extra care housing developers will have a shared ownership option where tenants can part buy and part rent. Typically, you can purchase between 25% and 75% of the scheme and you’ll pay rent based on the share of the property that you do not own.
I heard about extra care homes that had sheltered accommodation, communal areas and well-trained carers.
Benefits of choosing extra care housing
Research by The ExtraCare Charitable Trust shows that extra care housing can help people to manage long-term conditions and be discharged from hospital more quickly. It can also help people to recover from hospital stays successfully and quickly, according to further research by The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and Skills for Care.
Unlike sheltered housing, extra care housing is regulated by the Care Quality Commission, which carries out inspection reports and ratings, available on their website.
Extra care housing for residents with dementia
Some extra care housing schemes have been built with special consideration given to residents with dementia. They may contain features such as:
- the use of familiar objects and furniture to aid orientation
- different rooms/sections of the house painted different colours instead of a clinical white throughout, to aid orientation
- curved furniture, so residents are less likely to bump into it
- safe outside spaces so that residents can enjoy the fresh air without getting lost or wandering too far.
However, extra care housing shouldn't necessarily be viewed as an alternative to a care home. People living with dementia often have complex care needs, and a care home may be better placed to provide the best levels of support required to ensure their safety.
For more information on extra care housing schemes and other accommodation options for older people with dementia, contact the adult social care department of your local authority or HousingCare to find out if there are schemes in your area for people with dementia.
You can also read about how extra care housing is designed, managed and funded on the Housing LIN website.
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