Housing Options

Housing Options

Housing options

Different types of housing to suit your needs. Having an option in choosing the right care home for your loved one is needed. The Leading Care Company is open to hearing your requirements in choosing the right care home for your loved one. 

This article will give you the information and advice you need to help you love later life.

We are passionate about affirming that your later years can be fulfilling years. Whether you’re enjoying your later life or going through tough times, we’re here to help you make the best of your life.

This information guide has been prepared by The Leading Care Company and contains general advice only, it should not be relied on as a basis for any decision or action and cannot be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. The Leading Care Company Neither nor any companies mentioned in this article accepts any liability arising from its use and it is the reader’s sole responsibility to ensure any information is up to date and accurate

This article about Your Housing Options Cover the following

  • What this guide is about
  • Thinking about your options
  • I want to stay in my current home
  • I want to stay at home but need to make some changes
  • I want to stay at home but need some support
  • I’d like to boost my income
  • I’ve decided to move I want to move in with family
  • I want to move home: buying options
  • I want to move home: renting options
  • I’d like to move abroad
  • I want to move to where I can get more support
  • I’m interested in sheltered housing
  • I want to find out about other types of housing for older people
  • I’d like to know more about care homes
  • Useful organizations

What this article is about?

Many of us find that as we get older we start to think more about where we live. Do you want to stay where you are, but could do with some support to make life easier? Would repairs or adaptations make your home more comfortable? Perhaps you’re thinking about moving somewhere smaller or nearer to family and friends? Or you may be considering housing specifically for older people, such as sheltered housing.

This guide gives you information about these different possibilities and explains how to find out more about your options. As far as possible, the information given in this guide is applicable across England, Berkshire, and Slough.

In this guide, where we refer to a local council social services department in England and Slough, we intend this also to be a reference to a social work department in Berkshire.

Thinking about your options

We often have a deep emotional attachment to the place we call ‘home’. But as we get older, some aspects of daily life can become more difficult and we may begin to feel that our current home is no longer the best place to suit our changing needs.

It could be that your home just needs some changes to make life easier. Or you may want to consider other housing options, such as moving nearer to family or moving to a property that suits your needs better. Either way, it’s important to think through all the options carefully before making any decisions.

As a first step, here are some questions that may help you to think about your home and how it suits your current needs and possible future needs.

Location
Where we live makes a big difference in how comfortable and safe we feel, and is especially important if we have friends, neighbors or social groups nearby. Some things to think about include:

• Is your current home near your family?
• Is your current home near to your friends and social groups?
• Do you feel safe in your home and neighborhood?
• Are the local facilities and transport links suitable for you?
• Is the area easy to get around, or are there hills, traffic or busy roads that make it more difficult to go out and about?

Size
A home that’s too big for our needs can become harder to manage as we get older. However, a home that’s too small could be more tricky to adapt. Some things to consider include:

• Do you currently have more rooms than you need?
• If you have a garden, is it a size you can manage?

Accessibility
As we get older our needs change and we may find it more difficult to get in and out of or move around our homes. You could think about the following:

• Can you move around your home comfortably and easily?
• If your home has more than one floor, is there a downstairs toilet? If not, could you get one installed?
• Do you have to walk up a long path or stairs to reach your front door?
• Will your home suit your needs in the future, for example, if you become less mobile?

Finances
A home can be expensive to run, especially if you are paying rent or a mortgage on a fixed income such as a pension. Moving to a smaller home or to a cheaper area can have a big effect on our finances. You could consider:

• Do you pay rent or a mortgage and can you manage these costs comfortably?
• Are your energy bills affordable?
• Do you have sufficient income for all you need?

You could use these questions as a starting point to think about your current situation and what you may want and need. Even if you’re fairly sure what you want to do, it may be a good idea to read through all the options here. You may find you like the sound of something that you didn’t know existed or assumed wasn’t suitable for you.

Talking through the possibilities with family or friends and taking independent advice can also be very helpful. However, remember that choosing where and how you live should be your decision. No one should try to persuade you to do something you’re not sure about.

I want to stay at home but need to make some changes

Staying in your own home doesn’t necessarily mean that things have to stay the same. A few simple changes could make life a lot easier. Perhaps your home could do with some repairs, adaptations or equipment to help you live there safely and independently.

Useful equipment
There’s a whole range of equipment and useful gadgets available to help people live at home independently.
These include:
• kettle tippers
• one-handed chopping boards
• long-handled shoehorns
• telephones with large buttons.

The Disabled Living Foundation can offer advice on what products are available and how to get them. They also have a loan library where you can try out products for two weeks to see if they suit you.

There are also lots of useful technology to help with safety in the home. For example, if you’re worried about having an accident or falling ill while you’re alone at home, you could get a personal alarm. These allow you to contact a 24hour response centre by pressing a button on a pendant or wristband that you wear all the time. Staff at the emergency response centre will then call either your chosen contact person – a neighbour, relative or friend – or if the situation is more urgent the emergency services.

Your local council may run a personal alarm scheme. In Berkshire and Slough, you can search for your local community alarm service based on your postcode by visiting www.gov.uk/apply-for-community-alarm. You may get one free of charge following care needs assessment from your local council but this will depend on the assessment and your circumstances. Contact your local council’s social services department for more information.

Aid-call Limited, a subsidiary of AXA PPP healthcare Group Limited, also provides Age UK branded personal alarms including within Northern Ireland.* For more information about the service and the likely costs, call 0800 011 3846.

Home adaptations

If you’d like to stay at home but are finding it more difficult, you could consider home adaptations. These don’t always have to be big or expensive. Some

Help with adaptations and repairs examples are:
• grab rails
• a ramp to the front door
• a walk-in bath
• a stairlift.

Some people may be eligible for free home adaptations from their local council. See our guide Adapting your home for more information. Equity release could also be an option for funding home adaptations

Help with adaptations and repairs

Over 70 local Age UKs operate handyperson services across much of the country. These services offer older people extra help with small practical jobs – from putting up curtain rails to installing energy-efficient light bulbs or putting on a door chain. These are usually charged-for services, and the cost will depend on the nature of the work required. See our free guide Getting help at home or contact your local Age UK for more information.

If you want to find a reliable tradesperson, see if your local Age UK runs a ‘Trusted Trader’ scheme or use the TrustMark directory at www.ageuk.org.uk/trustmark.

I want to stay at home but need some support

You may want to stay in your own home but need some assistance – perhaps help with getting up, going to bed, bathing or preparing meals. Local councils are responsible for assessing the needs of older and disabled people, and for arranging services that can help you to stay in your own home. The sort of services provided can include:
• help with general household tasks
• home care to help with things such as bathing and dressing
• meals on wheels
• lunch clubs, social clubs or day centers
• respite care to give you or your carer a break.

You could also arrange your own support to make daily life easier, for example:
• ordering shopping online and getting it delivered
• getting a volunteer helper for your gardening or shopping
• organizing a cleaner if you find housework too difficult to manage.

I’d like to boost my income

Housing costs can be expensive and sometimes we could all do with a little extra money in our pocket. Here’s how you can boost your income.

Get a benefits check

Many people think that because they have some savings they won’t be entitled to any benefits. But the savings limit on some benefits may be higher than you think, while others don’t consider your savings or income at all. See our free guide More money in your pocket to find out more. For a free benefits check, talk to your local Age UK. They can advise you about any benefits you could get and whether they will affect any existing benefits you receive.

Reduce your Council Tax
There’s also help available with Council Tax. If you live alone you can get a 25 percent reduction on your Council Tax bill regardless of your finances. You could receive discounts if you’re a carer or if you live with someone with severe mental impairment, such as dementia. Local authorities also run their own Council Tax Support schemes (also known as Council Tax Reduction) which could help you towards some of your Council Tax bills if you’re on a low income or claiming certain benefits. Contact your local council to find out more or see our free guide Council Tax Support.

Save money on your energy bills
If you’re finding your energy bills too high, there are lots of things you can do to save money and pay less without cutting back on using your heating when you need it. For example, switching your energy tariff or supplier to get a better deal could save you hundreds of pounds a year. To find out more, read our free guide Save energy, pay less.

Consider equity release
Equity release is a way to release cash from your home without having to move. You borrow money against the value of your home but pay nothing back until your home is sold, or you sell part or all of your home but retain the right to stay living there. Equity release is a big decision and you are strongly advised to take advice from a fully qualified and experienced equity release adviser before making any decisions. See our free guide Equity release for more information.

I want to move in with family

Moving in with family can seem like an attractive option and in many cases, it works well. But it’s important for you all to be realistic and make sure you share the same expectations.

Here is a checklist of some things to consider when thinking about moving in with family.

• What sort of care will you need and who will be able to provide it for you?
• Will the home need to be adapted?
• Will you pay rent or help towards bills?
• How might the living arrangement affect your Council Tax?
• What would happen if the arrangement had to be ended, for example, if it does not work out or if you need to move into a care home?

If you invest in your relatives’ property, or purchase a property jointly, there may be implications if you have to be means-tested for assistance with care home fees or benefits in the future.

Be sure to get independent legal advice and consider having a formal agreement drawn up. It might seem awkward to discuss this, but it’s better for you and your family to be clear about matters from the outset and know what to do if the arrangement doesn’t work out. If you need a solicitor, contact the Law Society for your nation. Age UK Enterprises Limited* also offers legal support and advice through the law firm Irwin Mitchell. Call Irwin Mitchell on 0800 055 6314 for more information. Subjects covered include legal arrangements when moving in with family.

I want to move home:
Buying options

Perhaps you’re already a homeowner and would like to buy a smaller home or one closer to family or friends. Or perhaps you would like to buy a home for the first time and are looking for one that will suit you both now and in the future. Whatever your reason for deciding to move, it will only be a success if your new home is right for you. Don’t forget to think about things such as location, size, and accessibility when choosing a new home. Here are some other things you may want to think about when considering your options for buying a new home.

Fees and costs
There are always costs associated with buying a property. You will need to pay estate agent’s fees, legal fees, stamp duty, and moving costs. These can add up to a lot of money and it can help to shop around for estate agents, removal services and solicitors. The Money Advice Service has advice on how to estimate the cost of moving. Find out more on their website or call them.

If you’re not sure how to find a solicitor or estate agent
To find a registered solicitor, check with the Law Society for your nation or contact SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly).

If you’re not sure about how estate agents work or what they should charge, the Money Advice Service has an online guide to using estate agents that you may find helpful: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/buyandsellahome.

Advice and help with buying and moving
Buying a property and moving can be stressful and tiring. It can also be complicated, especially when dealing with the financial and legal aspects of buying a property. For expert advice on housing issues, including on matters relating to buying or selling a property, contact the Elderly Accommodation Counsel. Citizens Advice also has useful information. If you need some help with practical matters, such as packing or DIY, your local Age UK may offer a handyperson service or have a list of trusted local traders.

Accessible properties

Buying a leasehold property
You may be considering buying a leasehold property. There are lots of types of properties that are leasehold, including:
• former council or housing association properties
• retirement properties
• privately owned sheltered housing
• a flat which is in a block of flats.

Shared ownership

Park homes
Park homes, also known as mobile homes, are single storey houses installed on a park home site. They can be an affordable way of moving into an area that might otherwise be too expensive. When you buy a park home you pay rent on the land on which it stands. Make sure you understand the legal and financial implications before buying a park home and that you have the correct level of insurance.

Some other important things to check are that the site you’re interested in has a residential license and you can live there all year. You should also check the energy supply arrangements; some park homes can be expensive to heat and you may have to buy your energy from the site owners, which could also push up your bills.

I want to move home:
Renting options

You may already be renting and are looking to move somewhere new, or perhaps you’re considering renting a property in order to free up capital from selling your home. There are different ways to rent property. Find out more about these options below.

Private renting
If you want to rent privately, consider availability and prices in the area you want to live in. Private sector rents are often high and can increase year on year, so it’s important to budget for this.

You can find housing to rent using local newspapers, websites or a letting agency. Letting agencies may charge fees so make sure you’re clear about these before you use their services. They mustn’t charge you just for registering your name or giving you a list of properties. Whichever way you find a property, you will probably have to pay a deposit and possibly some rent in advance. In Slough, a landlord or agency shouldn’t ask you for a deposit or any other fee.

The most private rented property is let on an assured shorthold tenancy (or short assured tenancy in Scotland), meaning the landlord has the right to end your tenancy after six months or at the end of a fixed term. Check your tenancy agreement to find out how the rent is paid and who is responsible for maintenance and repairs. The landlord will be responsible for certain repairs whatever the tenancy agreement says.

Renting from your local council or housing association
Councils and housing associations own and manage social housing, which is rented housing at a low cost. Social housing is usually let on a more secure basis than renting privately.

In many areas, all social housing is allocated by the council, which means they have a waiting list of people who are interested. Your local council will have a policy on who is given priority for social housing, called its housing allocation policy, which you can ask to see free of charge. The housing allocation policy will also apply to people who want to rent sheltered housing from the local council.

To apply to join the waiting list, you will have to provide information such as where you live now, your health, your savings and your income (in Slough your income won’t be taken into account). The council will use this information to decide what level of priority you should be given, including any specific needs, such as needing to be housed on a ground floor because of mobility problems. Ask what priority your application will be given and how long you might have to wait.

Many housing associations have an agreement with the local council that they will offer housing to people on the council’s waiting list, although some housing associations will accept direct applications. Ask your council if they have a list of housing associations that accept direct applications in your area. If you want to rent directly from a housing association, check what type of tenancy you would get. You may find that it’s less secure than the tenancy you would get through the council’s waiting list.

Many councils and housing associations operate choice-based lettings. This means that they publish all available accommodations through local newspapers, newsletters or websites. You then bid for a home that looks suitable. Bidding just means expressing an interest – if a number of people bid for a property, the bidder with the highest priority on the waiting list will be offered it.

Swapping your property
If you’re already a council or housing association tenant, you may be able to transfer to another property or swap homes with someone. Swapping homes is known as ‘mutual exchange’.

To transfer homes, you will need to join the council’s waiting list or a transfer list run by your landlord. You may have to wait a long time for a transfer depending on the housing situation in your area and how much priority you’ve been given.

It’s likely that you’ll need your landlord’s permission to swap homes. It may take a long time if there are problems with your property, if you’re in an area with high demand or if you are looking for an adapted property.

If you transfer or swap homes, make sure you understand what type of tenancy you’ll have and what your rent and bills will be, including Council Tax. Check that you’re happy with the state of repairs at the new property. You should also visit the area to make sure that you like it.

I’d like to move abroad

Moving abroad can seem like an attractive option, particularly if you’re considering moving to sunnier climes.

Many of the things to think about are the same as for moves within the UK but there are some specific points to bear in mind.
• Will you be comfortable communicating in another language?
• How frequently will friends and family be able to visit?
• What are the health and social care facilities like?
• Who is expected to pay for care?

Remember that most benefits are not payable when you leave the UK and your State Pension may be frozen if you move abroad.

I’m interested in sheltered housing

Sheltered housing (also referred to as retirement housing) is a type of housing with support, which you can buy or rent. Some common features of sheltered housing include:
• a scheme manager (also known as a warden) who may live on-site or off-site
• 24-hour emergency help through an alarm system
• communal areas, such as gardens or lounges
• social activities for residents.

Sheltered housing might appeal to you if you want to live independently but in a smaller and easier-to-manage home. It offers the added reassurance of having an emergency alarm or a responsible person to turn to for assistance. Sheltered housing for older people is usually only available to those aged 55 and over.

The cost of sheltered housing will vary depending on whether you rent or buy, the scheme that you choose and the area you live in. Make sure you are clear about all the ongoing charges as well as the upfront costs.

Renting sheltered housing
Most sheltered housing for rent is provided by councils and by housing associations. In most areas, the local council runs a waiting list of people looking for sheltered housing. Many housing associations will fill all their sheltered properties in this way.

Different councils have different rules on who is eligible for sheltered housing. For example, the minimum age threshold may vary and in some areas you may be given additional priority on the waiting list if you’re seen as having a particular need for housing with support.

You can check your council’s rules by asking for a copy of their housing allocation policy, which sets out who gets priority for social housing in their area. Ask your local council how much priority you would be given and how long you would have to wait.

A small amount of sheltered housing is available to rent privately. There may still be a minimum age threshold, but waiting times are likely to be shorter and you may not have to meet any other criteria. Rents may be higher and your tenancy is likely to be less secure than if you rent from a council or housing association. Contact the Elderly Accommodation Counsel to find out more.

Remember that with any sheltered housing there may also be service charges in addition to your rent. Find out about what you will be expected to pay and what it will cover before signing any tenancy agreement.

Buying sheltered housing

Most sheltered housing to buy is from private developers. Sheltered housing schemes will have a management group that is in charge of the warden, services and maintenance. Unlike care homes, sheltered housing is not inspected or given ratings. However, there are some things you can check.
• Check that the developer is registered with an accredited body such as the National House Building Council (NHBC)
• Check if the management group are members of a recognized trade body such as the Association of Retirement Housing Managers (ARHM). The ARHM produces a code of practice.

Things to remember when buying sheltered housing:
• You will usually have to pay on-going management fees. Make sure you get a breakdown of exactly how much these are and what they do and don’t include.
• Sheltered housing may have restrictions in the lease on what happens if you want to sell the property or leave it to a relative in your will. Make sure you check these restrictions before you buy.
• There may also be an exit or transfer fees if there is a change of occupancy, for example, if a carer comes to live with you, or if you decide to sell. Make sure you ask about any exit fees before you decide to buy.
• Most sheltered housing is sold on a leasehold basis in Berkshire and Slough.

I want to find out about other types of housing for older people

There are lots of other types of housing options you could consider, many specifically designed for older people.

Retirement villages
Retirement villages are fairly new in the UK. They are large schemes of usually 100 or more homes with a range of facilities such as gyms and swimming pools. They often provide meals and personal care too. Properties in retirement villages are available privately to buy, rent or part-buy. Make sure you check all the fees and costs to find out what they include, as well as checking the lease to see what happens if you decide to sell or leave the property to someone. To find out more contact the Elderly Accommodation Counsel, who has a list of UK retirement villages.

Extra-care housing
This is also referred to as assisted living or living with care. Extra-care housing offers more support to residents than sheltered housing but allows them more independence than a care home would. Residents live in self-contained flats but meals may be provided, either in the flat or in a shared dining room. Personal care and support services are also generally available on-site 24 hours a day.

Extra-care housing isn’t available in every area. If it is available in your area, you could get extra-care housing following a needs assessment by your local council, if they decide you need it and you are eligible for it. Alternatively, you could buy or rent it privately.

Contact the Elderly Accommodation Counsel for more information about extra-care sheltered housing.

Abbeyfield
The Abbeyfield Society is a charity providing accommodation for people aged 55 and over. They offer different types of housing with varying levels of support. Residents are provided with one or two cooked meals a day and support from a house manager and volunteers.
For more information contact the relevant Abbeyfield society for your nation.

Almshouses
Almshouses are run by charitable trusts and are mainly for older people. Each charity has a policy about who it will assist, such as residents in a particular geographical area or workers who have retired from a particular trade. A resident occupies an almshouse as a beneficiary of the charity and does not have the same legal rights as a tenant elsewhere. Your security of tenure would be limited and your rights as a resident would be outlined in a ‘Letter of Appointment’ provided by the trustees. For more information about living in an almshouse, contact the Almshouse Association.

I’d like to know more about care homes

If you think you need more personal care than sheltered housing can give you, moving to a care home could be an option. Some care homes also provide nursing care too, so find out what levels of care are provided before you move. Care homes are staffed 24 hours a day and all meals are provided. Moving to a care home may seem like a big step but it can offer the opportunity to form new friendships and provide a safe, comfortable place to live.

How you pay for a care home depends on your personal situation. Your local council may contribute towards your fees if your capital and savings are below a certain limit. In Slough, you may be entitled to help with the costs through free personal and nursing care.

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