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Sheltered housing

Sheltered housing, also known as retirement housing, is ideal for people over 55 who wish to live in comfort and security but keep a level of independence.

About sheltered housing

Perhaps you've reached a stage in your life where living in your own home has become too challenging - maybe you're struggling to move around on your own, are feeling isolated, or are no longer able to do everything for yourself.

If you don't want to give up your independence and privacy, and don't need as much assistance as is offered in a care home or extra care housing, sheltered housing (sometimes known as retirement housing) may be the solution for you.

Reasons to move into sheltered housing

Sheltered housing properties are usually self-contained, unfurnished, purpose-built flats, houses or bungalows with their own front doors, kitchens and bathrooms. They are usually designed to be easily accessible for people with wheelchairs or other mobility issues. Many schemes will have flats for couples, as well as one-bedroom and studio flats for single people.

There's often also a communal area where residents can socialise and organise and attend events and activities, and there will usually be a communal garden.

You are still in charge of your own cooking, managing bills and looking after any medication - unlike in a care home where someone would help you do that.

Although each scheme is slightly different, within the majority of schemes you will find:

  • Individual self-contained flats, bungalows or studio flats
  • Carpeted and lit internal corridors
  • Fully furnished communal lounges
  • The services of a resident sheltered housing officer or visiting scheme manager
  • Guest rooms for visitors
  • Regular coffee mornings and social activities
  • Economical central heating systems
  • Communal laundries
  • High level of fire protection and security
  • 24-hour emergency alarm cover

Most schemes will have a warden or site manager who lives on site. Their role is to:

  • Ensure your well-being
  • Help arrange support for you
  • Manage repair work on your property
  • Help out in emergencies

Further information and advice

Further information is available on elderly care in the UK, including information on sheltered schemes, retirement properties and care homes. 

Richmond Housing Partnership (RHP)

RHP provides a number of different housing schemes and support in the borough.

Telephone: 0800 032 2433 (0203 166 2200 from mobiles)

PA Housing

Telephone: 0300 123 2221

Paying for sheltered housing

Unlike care homes, you are responsible for paying your own bills.

Who can apply for sheltered housing

Anyone over the age of 55 can apply for sheltered housing, whether you rent or own your home. If you receive disability living allowance, you can register for sheltered housing from the age of 50.

How to apply

If you wish to be considered for sheltered housing, you need to join our Housing Register.

How to apply for housing


Housing Information and Advice Team
Telephone: 020 8891 7409

Find our contact times.

Updated: 14 July 2021

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