Accommodation in sheltered housing is in unfurnished properties specially designed or adapted for older people. They provide a convenient and comfortable home in a setting where tenants can continue to maintain their independence.

A residential care home provides accommodation, meals and personal care for older people, people with disabilities, or people who are unable to manage at home, for whatever reason.

1. Sheltered housing

Sheltered housing is usually built in groups, called schemes. They provide a convenient and comfortable home in a setting where tenants can continue to maintain their independence. Tenants can come and go as they please, in an environment that is safe. Bidding for this sheltered accommodation under Choice Based Lettings.

2. Who can use this service

An applicant for sheltered housing (and your partner if you have one) must normally:

  • be aged 60 or over and retired from their lifetime employment
  • be aged 55 or over and have a disability
  • be aged 55 or over and have a mental health problem.

You must also:

  • need the security of an alarm system and the assistance of the sheltered housing officer (warden)
  • be able to care for yourself with the help of community care services (such as home help or meals-on-wheels)
  • not require a high level of nursing care and domiciliary services.

A support needs assessment will take place to ensure clients requesting sheltered housing meet the eligibility requirements. With the exception of Lambeth Council tenants, a separate assessment will also take place to determine eligibility for social housing such as council or housing association accommodation.

Lambeth Council tenants should register for a transfer with their local area office before applying for sheltered housing.

Applications for nominations to extra care sheltered housing for frail older people are assessed in conjunction with Lambeth Adults’ and Community Services (ACS).
Please contact the ACS call centre on 020 7926 5555 for further information.

To apply for sheltered housing, you can contact either:

  • your local housing office
  • the Support Needs Assessment and Placement Team (SNAP) on 020 7926 4407
  • your doctor, home help or social worker.

Next steps

An assessment officer may visit you in your home or complete a telephone assessment to get more details about your needs and circumstances. This is also your chance to ask more detailed questions about sheltered housing. If you are accepted, you will need to bid for a property under Choice Based Lettings. If you accept the property after viewing it, you sign up for the property in the normal way.

3. Facilities in sheltered housing

Nearly all sheltered flats are one bedroom properties. There are a few two bedroom properties and bedsits. All flats in one bedroom and two bedroom properties are self-contained with their own kitchen, toilet and bathroom. Only one scheme in Lambeth has shared bathroom facilities. All sheltered flats are connected to an emergency alarm call system.

Some sheltered properties are specially designed or adapted for people with disabilities and allow wheelchair access.

Communal lounges and social activities

Most sheltered schemes have their own communal lounge for tenants to use. Tenants may just want to meet and talk over a cup of tea or arrange other social activities like bingo, darts, card games and keep fit. Tenants are encouraged to arrange these events themselves by forming committees. Sheltered housing officers will give advice about setting up committees and organising events. Elderly people living locally are also encouraged to join in.

Special TV licence

Most sheltered schemes qualify for concessionary TV licences. We send a list of all sheltered tenants living on a scheme to the TV licensing centre. There is no need for tenants on these schemes to buy a full TV licence. Tenants should check with their sheltered housing officer whether they are covered under this scheme.

Guest room

Some of our sheltered schemes have a guest room. This is for friends or relatives of tenants to sleep overnight for a day or two if they are visiting. This is often used when tenants are ill and they need support for a short time, and we always give priority to these cases.

We make a small charge for the room. Although linen is often provided, visitors must bring their own towels. Visitors should leave the room clean and tidy. There are no cooking facilities. Tenants who want to book the guest room should speak to the sheltered housing officer in advance.

Laundry

All sheltered schemes have laundries, usually in the communal building. They have a washing machine and tumble dryer. The sheltered housing officer will show tenants how to use the machine. Sheltered tenants are usually given a time when they can do their washing and have sole use of the machine.

If sheltered tenants cannot do their own washing, then relatives or a home carer can use the machines to do it for them.

Pets

The rules about pets for sheltered tenants are the same as for ordinary tenants. Sheltered tenants must make sure that they arrange for proper care of any pets if they have to leave their home (to go into hospital for instance). Sheltered housing officers can't look after pets. If a tenant has to go into hospital, social services will put the pet with a private kennel. The tenant must repay the kennel charges when they leave hospital.

Repairs and decorations

Report any repairs in sheltered properties to the local housing office. If you have a problem reporting a repair or getting the repair done speak to your sheltered housing officer.

Sheltered tenants are responsible for decorating the inside of their properties. If you are over 70 or disabled, and there is no other member of your family or household who can help, we will decorate a number of rooms in your home under a planned programme. Your sheltered housing officer can tell you how to apply for this.

Security

Good security on sheltered schemes is in everybody's interest and sheltered tenants should follow security rules.

Sheltered tenants should not allow any person into their flat without first checking who they are. All council workers must carry identification and tenants should insist on seeing this. If tenants are in any doubt, they should refuse entry and contact their sheltered housing officer.

Tenants should keep their front doors closed and only use chains on the inside when they are opening the door. If sheltered tenants leave their chains on all the time, this could stop us getting in quickly in an emergency. Tenants should not leave their windows open at night or when they are away.

Entry phone systems

Some sheltered schemes have entry phone systems and the sheltered housing officer will show tenants how to use this. Entry phones give better security to the tenants by stopping unwelcome visitors. Before allowing entry to anybody, tenants should check their identity first. If tenants are in doubt, they should not let the person in and contact their sheltered housing officer.

Wills

If a sheltered tenant wants to leave their belongings to anyone, then they should think about making a will. Council staff are not allowed to advise you about this but the local Citizens' Advice Bureau can help or will put you in touch with a solicitor.

If tenants want to leave special instructions about their funeral, they should do this in writing. They should leave the instructions with the person the tenant has agreed will act for them when they die. The sheltered housing officer needs to know how to contact this person. The information is kept on the tenant's confidential file.

4. Lambeth community alarm services and emergencies

The emergency alarm system in every sheltered tenant's property and common area gives a direct voice link to the Sheltered Housing Officer (SHO).

When the SHO is off duty, the emergency call goes straight through to Careline - the Lambeth community alarm service. The officers from Careline are trained to deal with your call. In the absence of the SHO, if the emergency needs a visit, the Careline staff will visit the sheltered scheme and deal with the problem directly.

The alarm system is for emergencies only, not for general enquiries that can wait for the return of the SHO.

Entering your property

Under normal circumstances, nobody can enter your property without your permission. But sometimes (a serious fall or illness for instance), it may be necessary to enter the tenant's property to help them. A spare set of every tenant's keys are kept locked in a safe in the SHO's office for emergencies. The Careline officers also have access to this safe.

Sheltered tenants are asked not to put extra locks and bolts on their front doors without talking to the SHO first. If there are extra locks, and no key is given to the SHO, it could waste vital time if they have to try and force entry.

Regular checks to emergency systems

SHOs regularly check the emergency alarm system and the smoke alarms linked to it for faults. Of course, we expect tenants to let the SHO in for this check.

5. Sheltered tenants

Sheltered tenants have the same secure tenancies as other council tenants. However, there are a few differences:

  • Sheltered tenants cannot buy their properties under the government's `right to buy' law.
  • Sheltered tenants will not normally be able to pass on or assign their tenancy. But we may allow a succession of tenancy in special cases.
  • Sheltered tenants must make sure that no paraffin, petroleum, bottled gas or any heater that burns these fuels is used or stored in their property.

6. The Sheltered Housing Officer Service

Sheltered housing officers (SHOs) are practical and understanding people who are familiar with the problems faced by older people. The SHOs, together with the Lambeth community alarm services, provide cover 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. All staff members are trained in first aid, and can call tenants' relatives, doctors or other professional help when needed.

The SHO's duties

The SHO checks each tenant, Monday to Friday to make sure that they are ok. We expect sheltered tenants to co-operate with the SHO by accepting daily calls. If tenants go away from their property, they must tell the SHO or Lambeth community alarm services' staff.

SHOs live in the sheltered scheme or nearby and work Monday to Friday. They get to know the tenants living on their sheltered scheme. The SHO's first duty is to help and encourage elderly tenants to lead independent lives.

Confidential records

We keep confidential records, so that we can contact relatives in an emergency. This information is important. Such information includes contact addresses and phone numbers (for example, doctor, next of kin, friends and relatives).

These records may also have information about any medical condition a tenant has. This information could be vital in an emergency. Sheltered tenants must tell the SHO or Lambeth community alarm services about any changes of information.

General enquiries and day-to-day problems

The SHO is trained to advise on day-to-day problems sheltered tenants have. They can give information about services that the tenant could get: for example, home care, meals on wheels, welfare benefits.

Sheltered tenants are encouraged to help each other with everyday tasks as good neighbours. SHOs are not responsible for looking after sheltered tenants' valuables or money.

Social activities may be arranged by the SHO or by the tenants themselves. No sheltered tenant is forced to take part, the choice is theirs.

If sheltered tenants have personal problems or general enquiries, and have no close friends or family who can help, very often the SHO can point them in the right direction. You can speak to the SHO in confidence. If the SHO thinks the problem is something they can't deal with, they will make sure that the right person or department are contacted.

The sheltered housing officer can:

  • be with you quickly in an emergency
  • offer first aid and get medical help
  • offer a sympathetic and listening ear
  • help organise social events
  • help tenants to find help to deal with any problem they have.

What sheltered housing officers do not do

  • act as a nurse
  • give domestic help (except in an emergency)
  • take responsibility for your valuables, money or your personal finances.

SHOs are not there to act as nurses or to do cleaning, shopping or collecting pensions for tenants. If a tenant needs this help, we expect relatives and friends to help them. Social Services may be able to help if the tenant does not have this support available.

SHOs are not on duty 24 hours a day, but they may be available for call out in an emergency. Sheltered tenants must respect the privacy of SHOs (and of the SHO's family) when they are not on duty. If it is not an emergency, then it should wait until the SHO comes back on duty. If it is an emergency, sheltered tenants should pull their emergency cord and ask the emergency response centre to help them.

7. Residential Care

A residential care home provides accommodation, meals and personal care for older people, people with disabilities, or people who are unable to manage at home, for whatever reason.

The level of care varies from home to home, but the government defines it as the kind of care you would receive from a competent and caring relative.

This includes: help with eating, washing, bathing, dressing and toilet needs; and caring for you if you become ill. However, residential care does not include nursing care.

The decision to recommend a residential or nursing home will only be made after a community care and needs assessment - guide. If nursing home care is recommended, then we also have to agree to this. You can also consider homes in other local authority areas if your needs will be better met there.

When choosing a home, it is important to make sure that you choose one that will be right for you both now and in the future. You can get advice and information to help you make this important decision from:

  • your social worker or care manager
  • a district nurse
  • a health visitor
  • your family doctor.

You can find a list of the residential homes in Lambeth on the Care Quality Commission website. The Care Quality Commission is responsible for inspecting all residential homes.