Making the Move to Sheltered Housing

Shelter houses

Making the move from a permanent home into retirement accommodation can be a big step with many considerations. Sheltered housing is an excellent option for those who wish to stay independent in their retirement accommodation but have the added security of a warden.

What is Sheltered Housing?

Sheltered housing accommodation usually takes the form of self contained flats and bungalows within a scheme or complex. A sheltered housing complex will have a warden who lives on the premises or in their own accommodation near to the complex. The warden or other emergency contact such as a doctor can be contacted via an alarm system that will be fitted within the accommodation. This is a 24 hour alarm system that can be accessed whenever help is required in case of emergencies. Sheltered housing accommodation is usually rented but there may be options to buy.

Facilities in Sheltered Housing Accommodation

A sheltered housing complex will usually have facilities such as an entertainments room, a communal lounge area, a restaurant area and some complexes will have their own gardens. Large complexes can have additional rooms that are rented by visitors such as family members. Sheltered housing complexes do have a communal feel and there will usually be regular social events such as coffee mornings and bingo. Residents can have as much participation as they wish in communal life and this is a good way to meet new friends during retirement. All complexes will have their own rules on whether pets are allowed to reside in the accommodation.

Why Make the Move to Sheltered Housing?

There are many reasons why retirees decide to make the move to sheltered housing. Illness may mean that a certain level of help is required during retirement and a warden can provide invaluable assistance. Some sheltered housing complexes do offer extra care for those who need additional support. Choosing the right sheltered housing complex will often depend on the level of care that is available and is required by the tenant. Many retirees will have lived their entire lives in a large family home and sheltered housing can provide an affordable and more compact accommodation option.

Sheltered Housing, Renting and Buying

Most sheltered housing accommodation will be operated by local councils although there are plenty of private sheltered housing complexes. Council sheltered accommodation is primarily rented accommodation. Housing associations also run rented sheltered housing and often have options to ‘buy in’ to the complex. Buying a sheltered flat or bungalow can include ‘shared-purchase’ scheme where the tenant buys a share in the property but has sole occupancy. There is always the option to buy sheltered property on a leasehold basis, which means the right to live in the property for a specified amount of time.

Sheltered Housing Waiting Lists

In large cities and towns there can be plenty of sheltered housing accommodation. Unfortunately the demand for accommodation places sometimes outweighs the number of places available. There may be a long waiting list for some sheltered accommodation, and local councils and housing associations will assess tenants by priority. Priority needs include the medical needs of the tenant, the condition of their present accommodation and financial considerations such as an inability to buy accommodation. Those considering making a move to sheltered housing should contact local councils and housing associations for an assessment.

Choosing the Right Sheltered Housing

There are a number of points to consider if sheltered housing accommodation is a possible option. Making the right choice is similar to buying a property but with some additional considerations. Points to consider that may make a difference when choosing the right sheltered housing will include:

  • Does the sheltered housing complex provide the amount of specific care that is required?
  • Are meals included through the complex?
  • Is the sheltered housing close to family and friends?
  • Are there easy transport routes for visitors such as friends and family?
  • Is there easy access to local facilities such as shops, banks and medical facilities?
  • Will the tenant be comfortable living in a smaller accommodation?
  • Are there service charges applied in addition to the rental or purchase fees?
  • If the tenant uses a wheel chair or mobility scooter is there easy access within the complex?

Sheltered housing accommodation can be an excellent retirement accommodation option for those aged 60 and over. This type of accommodation can also make good financial sense whether renting or buying. Councils and housing associations will have a full list of sheltered housing complexes in local areas. They will also be able to give an assessment on waiting times and the types of sheltered accommodation available to meet the tenant’s specific needs.

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