There are many housing options for people with learning disabilities to choose from. Finding the right house for the individual may take some time and thought, but it has been shown to significantly improve their quality of life.
The ideal option is to tailor the house to suit the individual needs of the person. This could mean living independently with occasional support, or living in shared accommodation, or living alone with full time support.
Issues to consider before looking at housing include the following:
- The person’s capacity to choose their living arrangements.
- The funds to which they have access.
- The requirements that they have from a home – e.g. a garden, parking, accessible building.
- Where their family and friends live, and how important it may be for them to be nearby.
- The kind of environment which best suits them – e.g. quiet, rural, urban.
- How well they live with others.
- Who can help to look at housing options, and then make them happen.
Once these preliminary issues have been considered, then the following practical housing options can be considered:
- Renting a house or flat of their own.
- Shared or outright ownership of a house/flat.
- Family investment, where families provide money with which to buy a property, or provide the property itself.
- A purpose-built house.
- Specialist buy-to-let.
- Private sector leasing.
The above options can all be tailored around the needs of the person. However, if none of these seem suitable, an alternative would be to look at some established supported living options.
- Shared housing (also called a group home) – sharing with other people with learning disabilities. This would usually mean having a private bedroom, but sharing communal living spaces. This would often be managed by a provider organisation, with varying packages of support available as needed. This can follow many different forms, but runs on the principle that people with learning disabilities will be tenants with all the legal rights thus entailed, and that they will be able to make their own living choices.
- Residential care – several people sharing a home, who receive 24hr support provided by the service provider for a fee. People in residential care are not tenants in the same legal sense as those in shared housing, and would give more responsibility to the service provider with regard to living choices.
- Core and cluster – self-contained flats with support available on site.
- Network – small networks of people living in close proximity to each other. These can be established by a third party organisation, such as Keyring.
- Shared lives (adult placement) – regulated service run by the Local Authority or a service provider, whereby someone is placed within the home of an individual or family, who would act as carers.