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Toolkit: Introduction, vision and co-production



In 2021, SCIE published the findings from the Commission on the Role of Housing in the Future of Care and Support, whose aim was to ensure that older adults have a range of housing options, to suit their needs at the time that they need it. The report included a roadmap, with the following immediate priority for local areas, that they should:

… produce a single place-based plan for housing with care and support for older people which is shaped by the local authority, the NHS, local planning authorities, other local partners, and people who draw on care and support.

These local plans will help local areas to better understand where they are now in relation to housing options for older adults, where they would like to be, and identify their next steps and priorities in order to get there.

The 2021 Adult Social Care White Paper emphasised the importance of housing in relation to health and social care in relation to policy making, stating that “every decision about care is also a decision about housing” and that people should have a good choice of alternative housing and support options. The White Paper specifically states that the government will “enable all local areas to agree a plan embedding housing in broader health and care strategies, including investing in jointly commissioned services”, highlighting that housing that better meets future care and support needs cannot be achieved by the adult social care system alone.

While the national policy context in relation to general housing and housing with care and support has not moved forward in the way set out in the 2021 White Paper, the need to support local areas with their vision and planning, is still regarded as pivotal to enabling older adults to live in housing that meets their needs and preferences. In May 2023, the Government launched the Older People’s Housing taskforce and it is due to report in the summer of 2024. The taskforce are considering what more Government, Local Authorities, developers and others can do to support housing for older people that promotes well-being and creates age friendly communities.

This toolkit is funded by DHSC and is designed to support local areas, strategically and methodically, in thinking about and creating their plans for housing for older adults.

Housing options specifically for older adults

Age-restricted general market housing: This type of housing is generally for people aged 55 and over. It may include some shared amenities such as communal gardens but does not include support or care services. (Typically, C3 planning designation.)

Housing with care and support: Refers to all housing for older adults outside of general housing. More information about the most common of these housing types and examples.

A short description of each is given below:

  • Housing with care integrated retirement community/extra care: People live in their own purpose-built, self-contained household, while having the option to access care and meals on-site. Care is provided by staff who are available 24 hours. A range of communal facilities may be available including a café, lounges and gardens.
  • Retirement living/sheltered housing/housing with support: This usually consists of purpose-built flats or bungalows with limited communal facilities such as a lounge, laundry room and guest room. It does not generally provide care services, but provides some support such as 24-hour on-site assistance (alarm) and a warden or house manager.
  • Co-housing: Residents create and run their community, share activities, and regularly eat together. Residents have their own self-contained homes and private spaces alongside a strong focus on living communally, with shared spaces a defining characteristic.
  • Shared Lives and Homeshare: The Shared Lives scheme matches people who need care and support with an approved carer. The carer shares their family and community life and gives care and support to the person with care needs. Homeshare matches someone who needs some help to live independently in their own home (householders) with someone who has a housing need (homesharer). In return for low-cost accommodation the homesharer provides a minimum of 10 hours of support per week.

How to use the toolkit

This toolkit is designed to be flexible around the needs, context and existing strategies, policies and structures within a local area. It can be taken as a whole or different steps can be used to guide individual activities.

Population or housing types

Local areas should decide which population they will focus on. While the main intention for the toolkit is for it to be inclusive of all older adults in a local area, with a focus on those who draw on some form of care and support, it could be used to encompass all adults who draw on care and support or a sub-group within that. Some local areas have focussed on a particular demographic, or housing types (for example, extra care only) and created narrower plans. The toolkit should be used for the groups and housing types that are most helpful to that area.


The steps outlined are those identified as needed to create an outward facing business plan for a local area that will enable organisations and funders to understand the key needs and attributes of a local area in relation to housing for older adults and what the priorities and expectations are of that local authority. An outward facing business plan should facilitate the engagement of organisations and funders and provide them with the information they need to guide decisions about potential investment. We highlight which steps relate to which section of a business plan and vice versa.

It may be that a full business plan is not yet achievable, but a combination of steps will still provide helpful insights to guide and prioritise local activities. Local areas should dip into the toolkit as they find helpful, using the steps to build on what they already have, or as a way of getting started.

Related strategies and reports

Local authorities, as well as other organisations may already have other related or relevant reports and strategies. The aim is not to try and encompass them all in one plan, but to build on, signpost and make all those involved in a local plan for housing for older adults aware of the range of activities that may be happening across groups and departments.

In the future, one such related activity within local authorities relates to the Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act 2023 which came into force on 29 August 2023 with a formal consultation expected in 2024. It relates to supported exempt accommodation (supported housing that is exempt from the usual caps of housing benefit level), some of which is housing for older adults. The Act includes obligations on local authorities to develop strategic supported housing plans quantifying existing supply and local need.

From business plan to delivery

This toolkit supports the creation of a business plan and is not a guide for the delivery of that plan. However, by bringing together a housing partnership and developing a business plan, issues in relation to the delivery of that plan will certainly arise. There is an opportunity to be discussing and moving forward with changes within local planning policy and within local health and social care planning that would better support the delivery of the business plan. That will be more likely if the relevant partners have been involved in the planning from the outset.

Getting started: Vision and leadership

Full toolkit – PDF download

Toolkit for place-based plans for housing for older adults