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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

We must improve housing options for older and disabled people


A safe and secure home with the right level of support when it’s needed can make all the difference to people’s wellbeing, say CIH senior policy and practice officer Sarah Davis and Housing LIN strategic lead Clare Skidmore. That's why we're calling for examples of independent living models.

In a previous CIH blog we learnt about Dolly, 107, living happily and independently with support in sheltered housing with Derwent Living, able to participate in social activities, including preparations for her own birthday celebration. Sheltered housing is a long-standing example of how housing provides the foundation for a good life; it can sustain supportive communities and tackle the growing challenge of social isolation amongst older people, which can pose as great a risk as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Extra care housing, providing care alongside support, can help people to manage long-term conditions, and be discharged from hospital more quickly if/when they are admitted. Research by the ExtraCare Charitable Trust has demonstrated that their services reduce unplanned hospital stays from 8-10 days to just 1-2 days on average. And costs to social care reduced by £1,222 to £4,556 per person per year. Indeed, a recent sector showcase publication by CIH and Skills for Care has demonstrated how supported housing schemes help people to recover from hospital stays successfully and quickly, saving money for both health and social care services.

Increasing housing options for older people has become a policy priority recently because of our ageing population, but supported housing is also invaluable for disabled people who have long-term support needs. The alternative may all too often be costly residential care schemes, which may not fully support people’s independence and self-determination. In addition to a rising number of people living with long-term health conditions and physical disabilities, people are also living longer with learning disabilities or autism. A much wider range of housing alternatives with support are needed to enable them to live more independently within communities. The government’s Transforming Care Partnership programme (TCP) emphasises the importance of ensuring that people have a choice about their home (and the Housing LIN/ Hact are also working with selected TCPs to help them deliver on commitments set out in NHS England’s guidance, 'Building the right home').

A survey from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) this year showed that, for the first time, the financial impact of a rising number of working age people with long- term care and support needs outstripped that of older people. ADASS has highlighted that more examples of successful alternative housing models are needed to provide commissioners and providers with more confidence to invest.  

Alongside sheltered and extra care housing, there are many other innovative models being developed by housing, care and community organisations, in collaboration with local residents, to enable people with disabilities or long-term health conditions to live independently, and to continue to live rich, fulfilling lives. Examples include housing schemes or neighbourhood projects with an intergenerational element, where younger and older people live side by side and support one another; housing developments which involve some element of co-design with local residents, or which enable people to continue to work or volunteer, be active in and make a contribution to their local communities. These are just some of the many models which can help us imagine new, positive ways of living, whatever the level of individual residents’ disabilities or long-term health conditions. But we need many more - and in the light of the government’s proposed changes to the way supported housing is funded, we must do everything we can as a sector to demonstrate its value.

That why CIH and the Housing LIN are working together to showcase the existing range of supported housing, housing with care and support and independent living models and - crucially - how they’ve been developed. Rolling them out more widely could make significant savings across social care and health, while also helping people to determine for themselves where and how they live, respected as autonomous individuals, fully included in, and valued by their local communities.

We've got a number of great examples, but we want to learn about more, so if you are a provider of supported housing/supported living schemes, a community or voluntary organisation which has worked in partnership with people who use services, a housing provider, or a commissioner who has taken a new and effective approach to providing or enabling settled accommodation and independent living options for people with care and support needs (of all ages), we want to hear from you. Please tell us about your model, how you developed it and any lessons learnt along the way, to inform, inspire and help others.


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