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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.

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