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Vulnerable and Older People

The HCA believes that a strong and sustainable community needs to include all its members, including those who are older or vulnerable.

Vulnerable and older people require homes and opportunities that meet their particular needs, foster self-determination and support a good quality of life. The needs of older and vulnerable people can be met in a variety of settings, such as shared specialist supported housing, hostels, extra care housing, domestic violence refuges and care settings, as well as through floating support in general needs housing.

We recognise that vulnerability can be a temporary or a permanent state and we include people who require additional care and support services at home and at work, whether in specialist or mainstream settings.

For some people, general needs housing (including Lifetime Homes) may be the most appropriate solution, however specially designed or designated housing may be the best way in which to deliver support and care services. For these types of housing, the HCA separates Supported Housing  for other client groups from Housing for Older People .

Vulnerable and older people have a valuable contribution to make to our communities, so it is important to consider their needs as part of  is often on specific schemes, it is important to remember their inclusion and role in communities. Therefore it is important that the needs of vulnerable and older people are integral to thinking in terms of demand and supply (for example, planning for future demographic changes); wider sustainable placemaking, including the need to meet diverse housing needs; and community engagement, in addition to meeting equalities duties and the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.

Vulnerable People

The HCA recognises that vulnerability covers a wide range and levels of need and that not all vulnerable people need supported housing - for many, remaining in their own or their family home with support may be the best solution. Some people may require on-going support and care in permanent supported housing accommodation, whereas for others the need for support may be for a limited period requiring tailored services that may be only for a few months or perhaps up to two years in order to support residents into more independent living, a settled lifestyle, education, training and employment.

Supported Housing for Vulnerable People

The HCA divides supported housing for vulnerable people under 15 broad client group headings:

  • homeless families with support needs
  • offenders and people at risk of offending
  • people with alcohol problems
  • people with drug problems
  • people with HIV or AIDS
  • people with learning disabilities
  • people with physical or sensory disabilities
  • people with mental health problems
  • refugees
  • rough sleepers
  • single homeless people with support needs
  • teenage parents
  • people at risk of domestic violence
  • young people at risk
  • young people leaving care

Older People

An ageing society poses one of our greatest housing challenges. Most homes and communities have not been designed to meet people’s changing needs as they get older. Inclusive housing and wider environmental design is key to people’s health and well-being, and the suitability of the built environment plays a critical role in the provision of social care and health services. This major demographic change needs to be taking into account when planning homes and neighbourhoods – mainstream and specialist alike.

Housing for Older People

This includes all housing which is specially designed or designated for older people; for example, sheltered housing, extra care housing, registered care homes, retirement housing or clusters of bungalows solely let to older people.

Home Ownership

Home ownership may an appropriate option for some vulnerable and older people, and for those for whom the mainstream low-cost home ownership products are not appropriate we offer two specialist products: Home Ownership for People with Long Term Disabilities (HOLD) and Older Persons Shared Ownership (OPSO). Further information is available at the Affordable Home Ownership page.

Our work

The HCA has an expert advisory group that supports the HCA board in meeting the needs of vulnerable and older people. The latest annual report from the Group sets out a wide range of achievements and also sets out key challenges and recommendations for the future.

We work with local stakeholders to embed the needs of vulnerable groups into plans and strategies for new and existing homes and communities. Local authorities have the strategic role in identifying local needs and planning how best to meet those needs including plans for new specialist housing and the commissioning of associated services. In considering proposals for funding for supported housing schemes, the HCA will wish to ensure that proposals are in line with locally identified and strategic priorities.

Non-mainstream housing design guidance

Download this review which brings together the range of existing guidance, including for vulnerable and older people, and directs partners to the most relevant design guidance for a specific development type or user group.

Capital Funding

We encourage providers to bring forward proposals for housing that meets the needs of vulnerable and older people through the Affordable Homes Programme and the Homelessness Change Programme (previously Places of Change). Our Supplementary information - housing for vulnerable and older people provides additional information for the Affordable Homes Programme which may be useful for Investment Partners in preparing to submit packages which include housing that meet the needs of vulnerable and older people including supported housing and housing for older people, for both rent and low cost home ownership.

Financial benefits of investing in housing for vulnerable and older people

The HCA has published its analysis of the financial benefits of its investment in housing for vulnerable and older people. The report estimates the net benefit of HCA investment to be around £940 per person per year, equating to a total net benefit of around £640m per year. The figures contained in the report are based on an assessment of reduced involvement in crime, or reliance on health care and other social services, minus the additional cost of specialist provision over and above general needs housing.

Download Financial Benefits of Investing in Specialist Housing (PDF 368KB)

Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation (HAPPI)

The Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation (HAPPI) has gathered good practice from across Europe and put together new and creative proposals to help put us at the forefront of housing for older people. The report, and update Newsletters can be found on the HCA HAPPI page.


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