For Families and Carers : Housing choices

Why move out?

There are many reasons why people with Down’s syndrome start thinking about moving out. These include:

  • wanting to have more independence
  • wanting their own space
  • wanting to be like their peers
  • moving out of residential accommodation
  • parents are getting older and thinking about the future

What are the most common types of housing options?

There are a number of different housing options for adults with Down’s syndrome. There is no right or wrong option although there may be different benefits to each – what matters is finding what’s right for your relative:

Supported living

Supported living is essentially living in your own home with support. This can be living as part of a shared house or may be living alone. Support is generally offered separately to housing and should provide the person with a greater degree of control over support and daily life. Normally an assured short hold tenancy is given to the person which provides them with stronger rights than other types of housing such as residential care. People living in shared or individual supported housing normally have full access to the full range of welfare benefits

Residential care

Housing and care are provided together as a package for a person needing support. This generally includes personal care such as assistance with eating, washing and dressing. The Care Quality Commission has a list of registered residential care homes. Residential care is usually based on shared support often in quite large groups (sometimes there may also be smaller one or two person flats or annexes on site). People in residential care have fewer rights around the security of their tenure meaning it is easier to be evicted at the request of the owner. Residents are normally given a small weekly personal allowance rather than having access to the full range of welfare benefits on offer.

Shared Lives

A Shared Lives arrangement is a scheme where a person is matched with a suitable family and lives in their home. The idea behind Shared Lives is to support the person to live in the community in a family setting. Shared Lives carers are paid at a fixed rate and will provide some level of support in the home.

For some people, Shared Lives can be a stepping stone into living in their own home; for others, it is a longer term arrangement. Many Shared Lives schemes are run by local authorities, but some are contracted out to other providers. Your local authority will have information about schemes available in your area.

Intentional communities

Intentional communities are a less well-known living option for people with learning disabilities. Intentional communities are community living arrangements set up for disabled people. The people in the community often share resources and support each other. There are about 50 communities for people with learning disabilities in the UK. The largest and most well-known are Camphill Communities and L’Arche Communities and enquiries or applications can be made directly to them.

Living at home with support

Some adults with Down’s syndrome want to continue to live with their family. This
is the situation for the majority of adults with Down’s syndrome, though increasingly more and more people are looking at other options. If a person wants to live in the family home, additional support can be arranged through adult social care.

Which housing option is more inclusive?

The National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTI) has undertaken some research looking at different housing models and what the benefits and drawbacks are for the tenant/resident.

All of their papers are available on the NDTI website.

The diagram below shows a summary of their findings and is helpful in thinking about what type of support may be best for your relative:

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