Supported living as a model for housing with care and support

What is supported living?

Supported living refers to schemes that provide personal care to people as part of the support that they need to live in their own homes. The personal care is provided under a separate contractual arrangement to those for the person’s housing. The accommodation is often shared, usually as a small group, but can be single household.

Supported living enables adults with support needs to live in their own home with the help they need to be independent. It allows them to choose:

  • where they want to live
  • who with
  • how they want to be supported
  • what happens in their own home.

Supported living is typically defined as housing where support and/or care services are provided to help people to live as independently as possible. Supported living provides people with individual tenancies. This means that they have a home of their own and will benefit from a greater level of autonomy as far as their environment is concerned.

People may live in an individual flat or have a room in a house with two or three other adults with similar support needs. Personalised care and support are designed and provided according to the needs of the individual, with a focus on maintaining, or if appropriate, increasing independence. Visiting support workers will work with individuals to help them live the way they want to and access services and social activities as required. While meals are not provided, support workers can assist with shopping and cooking as needed.

Supported living has a lot of overlap with housing with care, but is typically considered separately.

Who does supported living support?

Supported living offers a high level of support for people for whom a residential home would usually be the only viable alternative. It provides accommodation for a range of people including older people, people with a learning disability, autistic people, people with mental health-related needs, vulnerable young people and people who have experienced homelessness.  


People in supported living have their own tenancy agreement and are responsible for their own bills and cost of living. The personal care and accommodation parts of supported living are covered by separate agreements. To help cover costs individuals may be entitled to a range of benefits such as the housing benefit part of Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payments (PIP, up to state pension age only), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA, up to state pension age only) and Attendance Allowance (AA). Grants to adapt a property may also be available.

The cost of some or all of a person’s care and support may be available through the local authority or sometimes via NHS funding.


Supported living on the whole is not regulated. However, in England any supported living services which offer support with personal care are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Supported living providers that do not provide the regulated activity ‘Personal care’ are not required by law to register with CQC.


Supported living services can be provided by local authorities, voluntary sector/charitable providers or commercial companies.


Supported living services involve tenure rights – renting or ownership, with associated occupancy rights.

Case study

Promising practice examples

  • Golden Lane Housing Open

    Model of housing or service: supported living

    Principles of excellence: adopting innovation; person centred and outcome focused; strong leadership, culture and workforce

    Golden Lane Housing (GLH) is one of the country’s leading supported housing landlords for people with a learning disability. Regulated by the Regulator of Social Housing, GLH was established as an independent registered charity by Mencap in 1998 to help tackle the immense challenges that people with a learning disability face in finding a home. GLH has more than 940 properties across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each year they house over 100 people.

    GLH’s mission is to help people of all ages with a learning disability find a quality home around which they can build their lives. To help achieve this, as well as providing housing, it also offers advice and guidance on issues such as benefits, support tenants to keep safe, help people to maintain a tenancy and provide a bespoke emergency and emergency repairs 24-hour helpline. By working with a variety of agencies, it makes sure that everyone moving into a GLH home receives the correct amount of support for their needs. Approximately 36% of its tenants are supported by Mencap.

    The individual properties allow for small numbers of people to live together and tenants are given the opportunity to have a say and get involved in the services provided. Safeguarding is very important to the leadership and as a result all staff receive comprehensive induction and yearly refreshers which includes training on the protection of adults at risk.

    GLH also recognised that its tenants needed a more tailored and personal approach to its repairs service and so in April 2015 it developed its own in-house work team, Resolve Solutions. It employs 13 operatives nationwide, two team leaders, one central administrator and one planner, all headed up by their national contracts manager. Resolve Solutions works hand in hand with the repairs helpdesk to manage responsive repairs across the country. The result is that tenants and those doing the repairs can develop a relationship over time.

    GLH is featured in the Government’s ‘Supported Housing National Statement of Expectations' as a case study on staff training by supported housing providers. 

  • Kilcreggan Homes Ltd Open

    Model of housing or service: supported living

    Principles of excellence: adopting innovation; person centred and outcome focused; community connectedness

    Kilcreggan Homes, based in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, is an independent charity that offers bespoke packages of housing support and domiciliary care to people of all ages with a learning disability, autistic spectrum conditions (ASC) or acquired brain injury, who are moving from home for the first time or moving from another care setting. The care and support offered includes support with tasks of everyday living, emotional support and assistance to access community services, with the overall goal of promoting good health and maximising quality of life. Staff are available to support tenants 24 hours per day and each tenant has an identified ‘key worker’.

    Kilcreggan Homes works with three of the Health and Social Care Trusts and Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) Supporting People programme to successfully identify clients in need of housing support. It then works with individuals, their families, carers, professionals and friends to help achieve a comprehensive support plan and smooth transition from home or care to community supported living. Accommodation consists of single occupancy and shared bungalows and houses. Every tenant has a unique person-centred support plan tailored to help individuals live as independently as they can, with opportunities to develop skills, relationships, communication and confidence to lead a satisfying and valued life in their community.

    Kilcreggan Homes has developed innovative and unique services in response to service users and their wishes to participate in their community and make a meaningful contribution. In addition to housing and housing related support, the organisation has extended to create a unique urban farm, social enterprises, a garden centre and café, volunteering and supported employment opportunities and a visitor attraction used by the entire community and visitors to the region.

  • Croft Communities Open

    Model of housing or service: supported living, care home

    Principles of excellence: person centred and outcome focused

    Croft Communities, a registered charity based in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland offers residential, supported housing, respite and day-care options for adults of all ages with learning difficulties.

    Croft Communities seeks to provide housing, care and support using a holistic approach to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those that avail of their services. It currently offers nine residential places providing care in the communal Mayne House, 34 tenants in supported living accommodation, enabling a more independent lifestyle, and seven respite places in the recently opened Croft Lodge, which serves around 100 families. It also has a day care service offering meaningful activities for 27 people from Croft and the wider community.

    The key focus at Croft, with the help of all its partners, is to empower adults with learning disabilities to live fulfilling lives within their local community. Croft also seeks to come alongside the families of those who use its services to see how best it can support them in meeting the overall needs of their loved one. Croft focuses on a ‘can do’ attitude which encourages staff and residents to go beyond what they imaged could be done.

    ‘Our daughter moved into the Croft Community nine months ago. With the companionship and care she receives she has never been happier. On regular home visits we notice that her domestic skills have improved considerably, and she is a very willing helper with daily kitchen and household chores. We are delighted with her increased independence, and the fact that she has a positive future in the Croft Community.’

  • Belong Villages Open

    Model of housing or service: supported living extra care

    Principles of excellence: community connectedness; adopting innovation; promoting equality; strong leadership, culture and workforce;

    Belong is a not-for-profit charitable organisation which runs seven villages across the North West of England, with another three villages in the pipeline. The villages, partly inspired by the Dutch setting of de Hogewyk, have been designed following extensive research and consultation with dementia experts and aim to create spaces which reduce anxiety and confusion. They comprise two main elements:

    • Households. Each village has on average six households which provides 24-hour support, including specialist nursing and dementia care. There are higher-than-average staffing ratios, and staff do not wear uniforms, with the aim of reducing the divide between carers and residents. Each household is grouped into an ‘extended family’ of 11 to 12 residents. These smaller households make for a more intimate, family atmosphere which can be particularly helpful for those living with dementia. The households are open plan to maximise independence and have access to the outdoors through gardens and balconies. Each of the modern, en-suite bedrooms leads directly onto an open-plan, shared communal space. At the heart of each household is a kitchen where meals are prepared and residents can enjoy the smell of home cooking and be involved in the preparation if they wish.
    • Apartments. Here individuals can live completely independently or with some degree of help if needed. There is 24-hour response and the option of a daily checking service. There is a range of one- and two-bedroom apartments available to rent or buy. For those who buy, there is a ‘Buy Back’ scheme which guarantees Belong will repurchase the apartment for the same price that the resident originally paid.

    The best move we ever made. We feel safe, we know we are safe.

    Apartment resident.

    Belong Villages aims to promote diversity and integration, welcoming all age groups, creating a place where children can play, families can unwind and residents can receive the support they require. The Village facilities, including the bistro, are open for use by the local community, creating a vibrant hub. Working in partnership with Ready Generations, Belong plans to open a nursery in its Chester Village in January 2022. This will make it the first intergenerational care village in the North West. Belong is also proactive in supporting LGBTQ+ older people and hosts an annual Silver Pride event in Crewe.

    Belong’s annual satisfaction survey highlights that 97.5% of customers would recommend Belong across all villages and services 95% agree or strongly agree that Belong is a safe place to live, that staff are caring and welcoming and treat them with dignity. 100% all Belong villages and Belong at Home services are rated Good or Outstanding by CQC. Belong has also won numerous awards.