Sheltered housing (also known as retirement housing) is a group of flats or bungalows where all residents are older people (usually over 55). With a few exceptions, all developments (or 'schemes') provide independent, self-contained homes with their own front doors. There are usually some common facilities that all residents can use - such as a residents' lounge, a guest suite, a garden and often a laundry.
Many schemes also have their own 'manager' or 'warden', either living on-site or nearby, whose job is to manage the scheme and help arrange any services residents need. Properties are usually also linked to an careline service ( also called emergency alarm or community alarm service) so that residents can call help if needed.
There are many different types of scheme, both to rent or to buy. They usually contain between 15 and 40 properties ranging in size from studios to 2, and occasionaly 3 bedrooms. Properties in most schemes are designed to make life a little easier for older people - with features like raised electric sockets, lowered worktops, walk-in showers, and so on. Some are designed to accommodate wheelchair users.
New forms of sheltered housing have been pioneered in recent years, to cater for older people who are becoming more frail and less able to do everything for themselves. These are known as extra care, very sheltered or assisted living schemes. Most properties in these schemes will suit less mobile people and wheelchair users, and bathrooms particularly will be designed to make it easier for assistance to be offered. Schemes may have their own care staff, and will usually provide one or more meals each day, if required.