Sheltered accommodation is another option for long-term elderly care as opposed to care homes, care in the community or living with family. Often it is called warden controlled accommodation, as this is one of the benefits, there is a warden on site usually 24 hours, they often live on site. In many sheltered accommodation facilities medical care is also provided, many places have a nurse who has access to a defibrillator and other necessary equipment, in case of an emergency. Maintenance of the properties is also carried out on a regular basis, and there is always someone on hand to change a light bulb, help with laundry, rubbish removal and odd jobs.
You have your own front door key and each unit is self-contained, some single ones however are just a studio flat with the bed screened off from the living area, perhaps not suitable for a person who has lived in a house with plenty of space. You have to view them to see whether you could consider living there. Most units have a bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, living area, and a small hall with storage space. They are perfectly adequate if you can rationalize some of your possessions that you do no longer need. Being more compact, they are easy to clean, but you could pay a cleaner a nominal charge if you so wished. Some retirement villages even have cleaning services you can include as part of your weekly rent.
A mobile hairdresser usually makes weekly visits, or if you’re mobile enough you can visit a local one, do your own shopping and act as though you were still living in a private house, however, you have help on hand if needed. Often a minibus will take residents to a local supermarket weekly to do their shopping if they cannot drive, walk far or use the local bus.
There is a communal lounge where you can sit in the evenings, usually with a television, but if you prefer you can stay in the privacy of your own flat. A notice-board will be on display featuring the many activities happening in the lounge e.g. bingo, games, coffee mornings or trips out and about. If you are a social animal this is an ideal way to spend your later years, as you will always have someone to talk to. Another advantage is the fact that as you deteriorate you can have carers come in to do various chores, meals on wheels, your GP would do home visits and if you have been there for a long time, the warden and staff would do all in their power to allow you to stay there, rather than move to a rest home.
Retiring and Living Independently
Over 55’s are now moving into sheltered accommodation as they see it as a good way to live, whilst still maintaining some independence. In a sense making a move into a sheltered accommodation environment, whilst you are still able-bodied, is as much about making that transition to a pleasant and supportive place and preparing for retirement years before they actually truly descend upon you. For this reason, many sheltered accommodation facilities are now called retirement villages, retirement homes, retirement communities or independent living, to connote this sense of a pleasant social, communal surrounding.
Whilst many sheltered housing facilities are owned and operated by the local authority, there are also privately owned warden-controlled flats. Northern British Housing Association and Anchor Housing are two of the most well known who operate an efficient system. Anchor Housing is a registered charity and is England’s largest not-for-profit housing association catering to the needs of those over 55, and has retirement properties around the country with rental prices starting at as little as £43.00 a week. Places for People is another national not-for-dividend organization that manages a range of housing developments, including sheltered housing for the over 55, throughout the UK.
Charges do vary between different housing associations, the rent usually covers all costs including energy costs, and you would get help dependent upon your financial status, in fact some residents end up paying nothing at all.
Applying for a Sheltered Accommodation Place
To apply for accommodation you would have to complete a form a time before you wished to enter a flat, as there is usually a waiting list, but not a huge one. There are also usually a couple of rooms set aside for visiting relatives to stay in if they wish, this is very handy if they live a distance from you.
You do need to give it some thought and visit a few in the vicinity you wish to live before making a decision. They can be the ideal choice for some people, and I know many who believe moving into sheltered accommodation was the best thing they ever did, however, a sheltered living environment will not suit everybody. Couples can also have double flats, which are, of course a lot larger. At one time a single person could take a double flat, this practice was discontinued for a while, however you may find a housing association which will allow this, enabling you to have a lot more space.
All-in-all sheltered accommodation facilities seem quite happy, friendly places and it takes the worry out of many aspects of coping as you age. For this reason considering sheltered housing can certainly be the right decision in preparing for your long-term care as you approach those ‘twilight’ years.