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Difference Between Supported Living & Residential Care

For adults with disabilities and long-term conditions, finding a suitable care solution which provides them with the best possible quality of life is vital. Exploring and understanding the different options is the first step towards securing the best outcome for yourself or for your loved one. Supported living and residential care are two of the most common and popular options for those with ongoing care needs, so we’ve put together a helpful guide to the differences between them to help you make well-informed decisions.

What is supported living? 

Supported living is intended to allow people with disabilities and other long-term conditions to retain independence and have their own home and private space. The key features of supported living are the provisions of suitable housing, but with the requirement that residents pay their own rent, live relatively independently and support themselves financially with their everyday costs of living. They might cover these with money they earn through work, or through benefits they may be entitled to. However, care is nearby and on-hand in the event of physical or mental health challenges or simply for support in everyday life, including budgeting and home maintenance tasks.

Supported living often takes the form of an apartment block or cul-de-sac, where a community of people in similar situations can live, with appropriate help readily available. Many people find that supported living is ideal for them because it allows a significant degree of independence and self-reliance, which helps with building life skills and self-esteem, but also allows residents to access the care they need at any time. 

Who uses supported living?

Supported living is generally considered the best option for those who have some care needs but who have the ability to independently carry out most everyday tasks necessary to look after themselves, such as washing and dressing, basic food preparation and so on. It is therefore an appropriate option for those who experience significant symptoms related to a learning disability or mental health condition, but who have enough physical capacity to take care of their own basic everyday needs. This might include people with more severe mental illnesses like bipolar disorder or substance dependencies, or those with learning disabilities, such as autism or issues related to conditions like Down’s Syndrome and cerebral palsy. These individuals often still need regular support, and even those with relatively complex needs may still find it to be a viable model, if the on-site staff are able to support them in the ways they require. 

What is residential care?

Residential care allows people with relatively high care needs to live, on a permanent basis, in a residential setting or facility where they can be provided with care and support at all times. The biggest advantage for residents is the 24-hour care which residential care provides. This is usually administered by specialist staff who understand the unique approaches different individuals require, and who have the specialist training to keep them safe and in the best possible health. Residential care homes provide catering and have communal living and dining areas where residents can socialise and even participate in activities together. 

Who uses residential care?

Residential care is often associated with older people, and particularly those with dementia who are unable to look after themselves in their own homes. However, there are also many residential care settings which specialise in providing care to younger adults who have higher level care requirements, particularly those with disabilities and mental illness. 

These facilities can care for people who have severe learning disabilities, behavioural challenges and mental health conditions, from autism to brain injuries and even schizophrenia. Residents might also have physical disabilities or long-term physical health conditions. Residential care is often the best choice for those who have complex needs and require support with basic everyday tasks like getting out of bed, dressing and washing.

How to decide which is best; supported living or residential care 

Deciding whether supported living or residential care is better for you will depend upon your assessment of the level of independence you or your loved one can maintain. Determining whether someone could complete simple personal care tasks by themselves can be a good test of which of these options is most suitable. If you or your loved one wouldn’t be able to go to the toilet without help, for example, residential care may be a better option than supported living. If someone can have a bath or shower independently, but would need support with planning, budgeting for and cooking meals for a week, then supported living might be exactly what they need.

The first step towards making the decision about what care option is the best for someone is to get a professional assessment of their needs. This could include a free care needs assessment, which can be provided by local authority social services. Many care companies will also allow you to have an initial assessment free of charge to determine what care is needed and how they can provide it.

If you or a loved one requires supported living or residential care, The Fremantle Trust offers the highest quality of care to the individual in need. Contact us today to find out more about how our services can help you. 

We have care homes located across the Buckinghamshire county. Learn more about care homes nearest to you:

Care home in Aylesbury
Care homes in Princes Risborough
Nursing home in Chalfont St Peter
Care homes in Amersham
Care homes in Slough
Care homes in Chesham
Care homes in Stoke
Care homes in Burnham
Care homes in High Wycombe
Care homes in Marlow