Supported housing and care homes

Information on Northern Ireland Housing Executive services, the Supporting People Programme, care homes and supported or sheltered housing in your area

Housing options

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) can tell you about its services and about care homes and supported or sheltered housing in your area.

Sheltered housing

Sheltered housing properties have generally been built for older people and/or disabled people.

The accommodation is usually self-contained flats or bungalows. They often have an alarm call system and a warden who visits regularly, or lives on the premises.

For more information see 'Sheltered housing in Northern Ireland' section below

Housing association accommodation

Housing associations offer 'not for profit' social housing and normally have a variety of housing. Some of it is specially designed for people with physical disabilities. Housing associations may also be able to adapt their properties to meet their tenants' needs, including the need for sheltered housing.

Housing Executive homes

The Housing Executive has a stock of adapted properties to meet specific needs. Whenever possible they try to let these properties to people who need them after assessment from an occupational therapist.

They may also be able to adapt council properties to meet the needs of tenants and their families.

For more information about adaptations visit the Housing Executive website.

Moving house

If your current property no longer suits your needs, you may decide to move to a more suitable home. If you privately rent or you live in a Housing Executive home, you may be offered a transfer or re-housing.

You may be able to stay in your current home by making some adaptations or installing equipment.

Sheltered housing in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland today, Housing Associations provide more than 10,000 sheltered flats or bungalows for older people or people with disabilities.

Sheltered housing properties have generally been built for older people and/or people with disabilities. The accommodation is usually self-contained flats or bungalows. These often have an alarm call system and a warden who visits regularly, or lives on the premises.

You can find out more about sheltered housing on the Housing Executive website. And, you can search for sheltered accommodation near you, or for services provided by the Supporting People Programme which will help you continue to live independently.

Facilities and services

Most sheltered schemes provide the following facilities and services:

  • self contained accommodation (apartment or bungalow)
  • central heating
  • scheme supervisor service
  • 24-hour call centre support
  • communal rooms for social use
  • laundry room
  • guest room for friends or relatives
  • landscaped gardens

Residents will usually hold a secure tenancy although some are leaseholders or owners.

Tenants of sheltered accommodation are in every regard independent. They are free to come and go and have visitors as they wish - subject, of course, to the provision that nuisance is not caused to other tenants of the scheme.

Supporting People programme

Supporting People is the government programme for funding, planning and monitoring housing related support services. Its aim is to improve the quality and effectiveness of the support services at a local level.

How the programme works

Supporting People provides housing related support to help vulnerable people to live as independently as possible in the community whether in their own homes or in hostels, sheltered housing or other specialised supported housing.

What is Supporting People?

Supporting People provides complementary support for people who may also need personal or medical care. Supporting People only funds housing support. But this can be part of a package of differently funded but co-ordinated support which meets the needs of individuals.

Supporting people is designed to help people live independently. The programme aims to help:

  • older people
  • people with learning difficulties
  • people with mental health problems
  • people with physical disabilities
  • women fleeing domestic violence
  • homeless people
  • people struggling to meet their tenancy conditions
  • people leaving institutional care
  • young care leavers

Who provides Supporting People services?

Housing support services can be provided by:

  • a landlord - for example, a housing association or the Northern Ireland Housing Executive
  • a voluntary organisation which manages accommodation - for example, a temporary hostel
  • other agencies which provide support in the home - for example, a Health and Social Services Trust

What type of support is available?

Examples of the type of support available include:

  • a warden or scheme manager
  • a community alarm service
  • general counselling and support, including befriending services
  • help to deal with claims, social security benefits and other official matters
  • advice or assistance with shopping and errands
  • parenting, cooking and household management skills training
  • assistance to engage with individuals, professionals and other bodies
  • help and assistance to manage money

How can you access housing support services?

Housing support services may be available within your own home. Your local Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) District Offices will be able to provide information on the services available within each area.

Alternatively, if you wish to move to specialist accommodation where support is provided, you should contact your landlord or local NIHE District Office to complete a housing application or housing transfer form.

Do you have to pay for the support you receive?

If you are eligible for either full or partial Housing Benefit then you will have the cost of your housing support services paid for you. If you are in temporary accommodation - such as a homeless hostel or Foyer accommodation - the support services will also be provided free-of-charge irrespective of your income or any changes to it.

If you are not currently receiving Housing Benefit, you should consider submitting an application. Entitlement to any Housing Benefit - no matter how small - will mean that your full support costs will be paid for. Service providers should offer assistance to you if you want to apply for Housing Benefit.

How do I find out more?

Further information is available from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Introduction to care homes

You may need a level of support that cannot be provided in your own home. In this case, a care home may be the ideal choice.

Choosing a care home

Your local health trust's social services department can provide information about what services are available and how to get them.

You have the right to choose your care home. Finding one that is right for you might take some time. You should make sure the care home you choose has the facilities, equipment and staff with the right training to meet your needs.

Each trust sets amounts that they normally pay for someone with your assessed needs. If you want to move into a care home that is more expensive, you may need to pay the difference.

Types of care home

There are different types of care homes. Some offer full time nursing care, others support people with a specific disability or medical need.

If you are currently receiving treatment on a regular basis from a qualified nurse, you may need a care home with nursing. Your district nurse or hospital staff will be able to help you decide.

Covering the cost

Care home fees are a worry for a lot of people. Care homes providing services and facilities appropriate to particular disabilities can be expensive.

Health and care professionals will assess your needs and help you find a care home that meets those needs.

They will then do a financial assessment to work out how much you can afford to contribute towards the costs. If you have over £23,250 in capital you will be assessed as being able to meet the full cost of your care.

Temporary stays in a care home

You might choose a temporary stay in a care home to recover from an illness or as a break for you and your carer.

You should also be able to stay on a temporary basis for a trial period to see if the care home suits you. Some people also go to care homes for day care.

Care homes and benefits

Moving into a care home permanently or for a short time can affect the benefits you receive. Your benefits will usually form part of your contribution to your care home fees, so it is important to make sure you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to.

Care homes and hospital

Some people move to a care home directly from hospital - perhaps if they are newly disabled. You cannot be discharged into a care home against your will and you have the right to choose your care home. A hospital stay may become necessary while you live in a care home.

Residential care and nursing home standards

Residential care and nursing homes are overseen by the the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), which is responsible for monitoring the standards of private, voluntary and Trust homes.

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