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What is supported living?

Supported living is a care option that allows a significant level of independence, while also ensuring that the service user is suitably housed and has access to support when they need it. It can be an empowering yet safe alternative to traditional residential care, giving vulnerable individuals the opportunity to be more self-sufficient while still receiving some help, in a number of different areas, from dedicated care staff.

How does supported living work? 

Supported living helps people who want to live independently in their own home but who still need some help with a range of tasks. Some of its key features usually include:

  • Provision of housing or accommodation for service users, whether in shared housing, individual flats or housing units, or even in normal private housing
  • Provision of advice about finances and/or benefits
  • On-call carers who can respond to requests from residents, whether for everyday personal care needs such as help with washing, dressing and preparing meals, or for emergency scenarios such as injury, addiction relapse or mental health crises
  • Communal areas, events and activities for residents, which allow them to socialise

Who might need supported living? 

Anyone who has clear care needs but wants to be able to live more independently can benefit from a supported living arrangement. They can be more self-reliant than is usually possible in a residential care setting.

Some of the conditions and challenges which could mean someone might require a supported living arrangement:

  • Epilepsy
  • Autism and behavioural challenges
  • Substance abuse disorders and addiction
  • Mental health disorders eg. bipolar disorder, depression and personality disorders
  • Brain injury
  • Down’s Syndrome
  • Learning disabilities

What are the benefits of supported living? 

Supported living is a great option for those wishing to live more independently but who still require some help. 

  • Residents have the opportunity to take on responsibilities such as managing their own cost of living and bills, which allow them to grow their confidence and sense of independence.
  • Whereas being in residential care disqualifies people from claiming most benefits, those in supported living can access support from sources such as Housing Benefit, Personal Independence Payments, and Mobility and Attendance Allowances.
  • It can provide a smooth, supported transition for those wanting to move gradually towards greater independence, whether this is a young adult taking their first steps towards self-reliance, patients returning to the community after an extended stay in hospital, or a range of other situations.
  • Since many supported living situations involve living near a community of other similar residents, this provides a sense of community, allowing residents to connect with others who experience similar challenges. This can also be an opportunity to build a stronger social life and participate in activities and events together.
  • Living more independently encourages residents to develop new life skills, such as cooking or managing a budget, or to rebuild ones which they may have lost. This can be a huge self-esteem boost and potentially pave the way towards ever-increasing independence, for example by allowing them to study for qualifications, or learn the skills required to find a job.

How do you know whether supported living is the right option?

Deciding whether supported living is a suitable option for you or your loved one can be difficult, and there’s a number of factors you should take into consideration before making your choice. Individuals with needs caused by learning disabilities, complex mental health conditions, some physical disabilities and autism can find that supported living enables them to live a happier and freer life, but it isn’t necessarily the right choice for everyone.

Supported living will be most suitable for people who have the ability to do a significant proportion of simple and everyday tasks for themselves. This can mean that it is a less viable option for people who have serious mobility issues which cannot be overcome with assistive technology or home adaptation. Since a supported living environment also requires a moderate level of personal responsibility, those with very severe learning disabilities, for example those who cannot achieve a high enough level of literacy and numeracy to understand a basic budget, may struggle to cope in supported living.

For those whose needs are greater, it may be more appropriate to consider residential care. Many residential care facilities are able to provide the flexibility and self-determination for those residents who can benefit from it, while ensuring that all of their basic needs are consistently met.

If you or a loved one requires supported living, 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.