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Sheltered housing, sometimes referred to as "retirement homes", gives you independence with support on-site.
Sheltered housing is the term used to describe accommodation built in accordance with specific guidelines set by the Department of Social Development (DSD) and suitable for older or disabled people.
Sheltered accommodation aims to improve your life and enable you to remain independent for as long as possible. There are many different types of sheltered housing available, including those available to buy and to rent. Most sheltered schemes provide the following facilities and services, although they will vary between providers:
- Self contained accommodation - apartment or bungalow (e.g. own kitchen, bathroom, living room etc)
- Central heating
- Scheme supervisor service (e.g. warden or scheme manager)
- 24 hour call centre support with emergency assistance
- Communal rooms for social use
- Optional social activities such as bingo or dances
- Laundry room
- Guest room for friends or relatives
- Landscaped gardens
- Security and safety features
- Widened doors/hallways for wheelchair users
Sheltered housing accommodation is usually small and easy to manage and designed for people with disabilities. There may be a walk-in shower, higher sockets, lowered light switches or lowered work-tops, for example.
Benefits of Sheltered Housing
The key benefits of sheltered housing schemes are the provision of wardens and 24 hour emergency assistance. This helps you feel safe and secure – you know that assistance is on-hand in an emergency.
Also, social activities and contact with other residents enables you to maintain an active social life even if you become frail. This can help you combat issues such as social inclusion, loneliness, isolation, anxiety and depression.
The scheme manager does not usually provide care for residents, although they can help to organise support services such as a care assessment, meals on wheels, or help with bathing. Therefore, sheltered housing schemes are usually linked into social help and care services.
Don't forget about the service charge
You pay a service charge for sheltered housing regardless of whether you rent or own the home. This covers such things as the scheme manager, maintenance, gardening, cleaning of communal areas, the alarm system and so on.
Service charges vary between schemes so it is important to check these but some service charges can be covered by your Housing Benefit.
Finding Sheltered Housing
To find out about sheltered housing in Northern Ireland, download the Essential Role of Sheltered Housing (ERoSH) NI Directory which contains information about sheltered housing schemes.
The directory contains the name and address, the facilities and services provided, and contact details for viewing and applying for each scheme.
Housing Care also have a handy online search facility for all types of accommodation. Just make sure you select the correct region to search.