Housing for people with special requirements

Sometimes, having a home of your own is not enough. If you think that you need help or adaptations so that you can stay in your home, or are considering moving to a home where you can receive help, or a home that is more suitable for your needs, this section will help you look at your options.

You may need support, adaptations or help if you:

  • are an older person
  • have a learning disability
  • have a mental health issue
  • have a sensory impairment or physical disability
  • are a young person in their first tenancy
  • are a young single parent
  • have been homeless and are moving into a new tenancy
  • you are at risk of becoming homeless
  • have drug or alcohol dependency issues.

Rights in supported accommodation

Your rights when you live in supported accommodation depend on the type of accommodation and what support you receive there.

What is supported accommodation?
Types of supported accommodation can vary widely. For example, supported accommodation may be:

  • a house or flat where you receive support from social workers or other organisations
  • sheltered housing
  • a care home or nursing home
  • a hostel or rehabilitation centre.

Tenancy agreement or a licence agreement?
When you moved into your supported accommodation, you should have been asked to sign an agreement setting out your rights and responsibilities. This should explain to you what kind of tenant or occupier you are.

Tenancy agreements in supported housing
You probably have a tenancy agreement if you rent a house or flat or you occupy at least some of the accommodation exclusively (for example, a bedroom).

Your tenancy rights depend on the kind of tenancy agreement you have.

If you rent supported accommodation from:

If you share accommodation with your landlord, you are probably an excluded occupier.

Check your tenancy type if you’re not sure what kind of agreement you have.

Licence agreements in supported housing
You may have a licence agreement if:

  • you rent a room in a group home run by a housing association/charitable association where you share communal rooms (for example, a bathroom or living room) with other people
  • the main purpose of your stay is to receive support (for example, if you live in a rehabilitation centre, a hostel, or a hospital).

In these situations you are probably an excluded occupier, with fewer rights than a tenant. This is especially likely if you are only staying there temporarily.

Supported housing help and advice
Get advice from a Shelter Cymru adviser to work out your tenancy rights in supported accommodation. Your adviser may also be able to help if you are concerned about your rights or have been asked to leave your accommodation.

Find more about housing support you might be eligible for.

Find out more about help available from your local council.

Getting needs assessed

If you are finding it difficult to manage at home, you can have an assessment of your needs carried out by the social services department to see what care and support you may require. This is known as a ‘needs assessment’.

What is a ‘needs assessment’?
A ‘needs assessment’ is a review of your personal circumstances, carried out by your council’s social services department. Social services will look at what your care and support needs are and consider how these affect your day-to-day living. They should talk to you about what your goals are, what matters most to you and help you work out ways in which to make you more independent and make life easier for you. For example, they might recommend:

  • getting some special equipment for your home, such as a stairlift
  • getting some help with household tasks, such as cooking and cleaning
  • getting some help with personal care, such as washing and dressing
  • moving to new accommodation where you can receive more help and support.

Who can get a ‘needs assessment’?
Anyone who needs care and support can get a ‘needs assessment’. You might:

  • be physically disabled
  • have a learning disability
  • have a mental health problem
  • have a chronic illness
  • be dependent on drugs or alcohol
  • be an older person.

What if I have a carer?
If you have a carer, for example a family member or friend who looks after you in your home, they can have their needs assessed too . The social services department will consider what can be done to support them and whether they need to have breaks from caring for you.

You can find out more about getting support if you are a carer on the Carers UK website. Carers Wales have developed a factsheet on getting a carers assessment in Wales.

How do I get a ‘needs assessment’?
You should contact your local council and ask to speak to the social services department. You can find contact details for your council’s social services department on your council’s website. You can also ask your GP to make a referral for an assessment. If you are in hospital, you can ask the hospital social work team to request an assessment.

You can find out details of support available in your area, including your local social services department, here.

What happens at the assessment?
In order to carry out the assessment, someone from social services and possibly someone from the housing or health department will:

  • visit you and your family or carer (if appropriate) to talk about your needs and what kind of help you would like
  • find out what you can and cannot do for yourself
  • talk to your doctor, occupational therapist or other medical professionals, if you agree to this.

The social services department should keep in touch with you while the assessment is being carried out.

How long will it take to get an assessment?
There is no time limit for carrying out assessments so, depending on your situation, you may have to wait before you are seen. If you are in an emergency situation (for example, if you are severely disabled and do not have a carer), you should be assessed urgently and services can be provided while this takes place. If your situation worsens while you’re waiting for an assessment, let social services know – they may move you up the waiting list.

Once the assessment has been carried out, you may have another wait before you get the services that have been recommended. If you have urgent needs, you should start receiving services immediately.

What happens next?
Once the social services department has assessed your situation, they should draw up a care and support plan for you. This will set out:

  • what kind of care or support you need
  • who will provide the services you need
  • when they will be provided.

You are entitled to a written copy of the assessment and the care and support plan, so don’t be afraid to ask for one if it is not offered to you.

Will I have to leave my home?
If you want to stay in your home rather than move into supported accommodation, social services should do their best to help you do so by:

  • recommending special equipment and adaptations that can be carried out at your home to make it easier for you to get around
  • arranging for you to be provided with support or care at home.

If it is not possible to adapt your home so that it is suitable for your needs, or to provide you with the care you require at home, your housing options could include:

What if I’m not happy with the assessment?
If you are unhappy with the way the needs assessment has been carried out, or with the outcome of the assessment, there are several steps you can take:

  • first, try speaking to the social work department to sort things out
  • if you’re still not satisfied, your council should have a complaints procedure you can use
  • if this is unsuccessful, you could consider complaining to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

If want to make a complaint, get advice first. Contact Shelter Cymru or Citizens Advice.

How do I pay for the services?
Help is available for paying for care and support charges. Once social services have decided on the equipment or services you need, they will either:

  • arrange to provide these for you, or
  • arrange for you to receive direct payments, so you can organise and pay for your own services.

Depending on your income and savings, and on the charging policy of your council, you may have to pay for some or all of these services yourself.

Housing support

You may be eligible for housing support from your council or landlord if you need some extra help with everyday activities at home or in your community.

What is housing support?
Housing support is help that is provided to enable someone to manage on a day-to-day basis while they are living in their own home.

It can include things like:

  • help with budgeting and paying bills
  • planning meals and shopping
  • emotional support
  • help to pursue social or leisure interests.

Who provides support?
Support is usually provided by a support worker, or a team of support workers, who will visit you in your home. Some types of support worker will be able to go with you to appointments or on shopping trips and support you at social events.

Some housing associations have support teams. You do not always have to be a tenant of the housing association to receive support from their support team.

There are also support teams who do not have a connection with housing providers who will support you in your own home.

Who is housing support for?
Housing support is suitable for a variety of people with low-level support needs. For example, you may want housing support if you:

  • have a learning disability
  • have a mental health issue
  • have a sensory impairment or physical disability
  • are a young person in their first tenancy
  • are a young single parent
  • are moving into a tenancy after being homeless
  • are at risk of becoming homeless
  • have recently been discharged from prison
  • have drug or alcohol dependency issues.

You can get housing support if you live alone or share your house with other people. You could be living in a flat, a house, a hostel, or sheltered housing.

How much support would I get?
The number and length of visits you have from your support worker will vary according to the level of support that you require. Some people only need a couple of short visits each week or month, while other people will need to see someone every day and have access to an on-call service.

How can I get housing support?
If you think that you would benefit from housing support, you should contact your local council and ask them to assess your needs. You can also ask your GP or social worker about getting an assessment. If you are in hospital, you can ask the hospital social work team.

Find details of help available from your local council’s social services department here.

Paying for housing support services
If you have a low income or receive welfare benefits, you may be able to get help to pay for housing support services from the Supporting People programme. Ask your support provider to give you details of the programme.

Can I get support from more than one provider?
Yes. You might need different types of support from different kinds of care providers. For example, you may need housing support services to help you budget and plan meals, but you may also need a home help to come in to do your housework.

Care in your own home

If you are finding it difficult to manage living at home, it may be possible for you to get your house adapted so that it is suitable for your needs, or for you to get help so that you can stay in your home.

What help do I need?
If you are finding it difficult to manage in your own home, you should ask for an assessment of your care needs from the social services department at your local council. You can also ask your GP to make a referral for an assessment.

After your assessment, the social services department should decide how much care you require and arrange for you to receive it. You are entitled to a written copy of your assessment and care plan, so you should ask for a copy if you do not receive one.

What kind of help can I get?
Care at home can include:

  • special adaptations to help you with your daily life, such as a raised chair or bed, or equipment to help you get in and out of the bath
  • home helps to assist with general household tasks
  • personal care to help you with personal needs such as washing and dressing
  • meals on wheels if you have difficulty cooking for yourself
  • access to lunch and social clubs
  • access to a day care centre
  • respite care to allow you and your carer to have a rest from each other.

The services you receive may be provided by the council, for example by social services, the housing department or the health service, or by other agencies.

Will I have to pay for care at home?
Your council will decide whether you have to pay for care services and, if so, how much. Some councils will have standard charges for some of their services, such as home helps. The council should take your financial circumstances into account when deciding how much you should pay. You can ask for the charges to be reviewed, if you think they are unreasonable.

How do I pay for care at home?
You may be entitled to help with paying for care at home. If social services are going to fund all or part of your care they usually have to offer you the choice of direct payments. For more advice see our page on help with paying for care and support.

Housing benefit if you have an overnight carer
If you rent your home and claim housing benefit you can get housing benefit for 1 extra bedroom if you’re disabled and regularly have an overnight carer (or team of carers).

You must get one of the following benefits:

  • middle or higher rate Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Attendance Allowance (AA)
  • daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Since the 1st April 2017, this also applies when a disabled child reasonably requires, and has, overnight care from a non-resident carer. See our pages on the bedroom tax for more information.

If you need care at night but are struggling to pay your rent, you should be able to apply for discretionary housing payments to help you.

Financial help with adaptations
You may be able to get a disabled facilities grant for certain adaptations to your home if you cannot afford to pay for these yourself.

If you are in rented accommodation you will also need the permission of your landlord.

Sheltered housing

What is sheltered housing?

Sheltered housing gives older people the independence of having their own flat with the security of having an alarm system and a warden. The flats are usually small self-contained units or single rooms in a complex, which often has a communal social area.

The sheltered housing staff should check on you every day and should be able to assist you in an emergency. They would not be expected to provide care or do things like shopping.

Can I get additional care?
If you require additional services, you can still have care provided by the social services department, such as meals on wheels, or someone to come in to get you up in the morning, or to help you wash, or do your housework.

Or you could move into very sheltered housing or extra care sheltered housing , where services such as meals and personal care are usually provided.

Who provides sheltered housing?
A number of housing providers have sheltered housing complexes:

  • councils
  • housing associations (to rent, for shared ownership, or to buy outright)
  • voluntary organisations, such as Abbeyfield.

Visit the Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) Housing Care website to search through lots of housing options and find advice services to help you if you have any problems or need further information.

Do I have to rent a flat or can I buy one?
It is sometimes possible to buy a flat in a sheltered housing complex. If you already own your home, it may be easier for you to buy than to rent, as home owners are usually not given priority on waiting lists to rent from the council or a housing association.

Care homes

Why would I move into a care home?
You may want to move into a care home if you find it difficult to look after yourself and it is not possible for you to receive the care you need in your own home.

Some care homes just provide personal care. This can include:

  • help with washing, bathing and showering
  • help to manage continence
  • help to take medication.

You will need a care home which also provides nursing care if:

  • you are extremely frail
  •  you are bedridden
  • you have a medical condition that requires you to have frequent medical attention from a doctor or a nurse.

Would I have to move in permanently?
Care homes don’t just provide permanent accommodation. Many care homes cater for people who only need to stay temporarily. This could be to:

  • allow you to convalesce after an illness
  • give you and your carer a rest from each other
  • let you try out living in a care home to see how you like it.

I am considering moving to a care home, what do I do first?
If you are considering moving into a care home, you should contact the social services department at your local council. They will carry out an assessment of your needs.

Social services will suggest the best form of care for you. This could include:

  • having care provided in your own home
  • moving to a care home for a short period of time
  • moving to a care home permanently.

If the social services department suggest that you require care, they will be responsible for arranging and paying for this, but they will also carry out a financial assessment to see if you should contribute to paying for a care home. For more information, see our page on paying for care and support.

Do I have to move into a care home?
You do not have to move into a care home if the social services department suggest it following an assessment. If you are mentally capable of looking after yourself, you can refuse to go into care or refuse to accept care in your home. Your wishes should always be taken into account when any suggestions are made, and the final decision should be yours. Get advice if you think your wishes aren’t being taken into account – you can search for advice agencies at the website of the Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC).

Can I choose which care home I move into?
If you are going to move into a care home, you should be allowed to decide which one, so long as it:

  • is suitable for your assessed needs, and
  • not cost much more than the care homes that social services already pay for in your area, and
  • is prepared to accept the contract from your social services department.

You can search for care homes that suit your needs at the EAC’s website (see above).

Where can I find out more?
More information about care homes can be found on:

You can view the most recent inspection reports for any care home you are considering on the CSSIW website.

Hostels and foyers

Some hostels offer housing support to people who need some help to adapt to living independently. Foyers are a special kind of hostel offering support for young people.

What kind of support can hostels offer?
Many hostels that offer long-term accommodation also provide support to residents to help them move out of hostel accommodation and into their own homes. This support can take the form of:

  • counselling and advice
  • support in developing independent living skills, such as budgeting or cooking
  • help claiming benefits
  • help accessing education, employment, or training
  • help finding permanent accommodation
  • additional support once you have moved into a new tenancy.

How do I apply for hostel accommodation?
Longer-term hostels usually have waiting lists, or will only accept referrals from certain agencies, such as a housing advice centre or the council’s social services department. They are often for specific groups of people, for example young homeless people or people with particular problems, such as mental health issues or alcohol dependency.

They are run by various organisations, including charities, housing associations, and local authorities. To find out about hostels in your area, contact your council’s social services department, use the Homeless UK website, or call Shelter Cymru’s expert housing advice line on 0345 075 5005.

What is a foyer?
Foyers offer affordable accommodation for young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or in housing need. They combine a secure living environment with help and support, and access to work and learning opportunities.

How do I apply for foyer accommodation?
You can contact your nearest foyer directly, or ask to be referred by the council, a social worker, or a housing advice centre. The foyer will arrange an entrance interview for you. Most foyers have waiting lists, so it’s a good idea to get help with your application to make sure you have a good chance of being accepted.

Where’s my nearest foyer?
There are foyers throughout the UK. Visit the Foyer Federation’s website to find your nearest one.

Where can I get more help?

If you need to move to an adapted property, or something more accessible, then you should contact your local council or housing association and ask if they have an Accessible Housing Register.

If you want to stay in your home but think you need adaptations, have a look at our advice page here.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a guide for disabled people called Your rights to accessible and adaptable housing in Wales. It contains lots of useful information about finding accessible properties in Wales and getting adaptations done. It is also available in a Welsh language version.

Visit our Useful Links page for details of other organisations who could help you.

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 0345 075 5005.

Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
0345 075 5005

Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

This page was last updated on: October 22, 2018

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.