Care Guides > Everything You Need to Know About Assisted Living

Everything You Need to Know About Assisted Living

An elderly woman being helped out of a chair
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A type of housing with care, assisted living allows people to live independently, with added help with day to day tasks. When you get to a point in your life where you need a little bit of extra personal care, assisted living might be something to consider.

We’re going to discuss all things assisted living - what it entails, the advantages and disadvantages, costs and find out if it suits you and your loved one.

What is Assisted Living?

What also goes by the name of extra-care housing, assisted living provides higher levels of support than sheltered housing whilst still allowing you to still maintain your independence in a self-contained home.

It’s ideal for those that don’t want or need to go into a residential care or nursing home but need a little personal care while maintaining independent living.

Assisted living can look like living in a self-contained home but with staff on hand up to 24 hours a day to provide tailored care and support to you.

Things that staff might help with include washing, getting dressed, eating, going to the bathroom, medication management and domestic help, including laundry, cooking, shopping and much more.

Similarly to other care facilities, there is likely to be an optional communal activity programme to help stay connected and engaged.

Who is it Suited To?

Assisted living is best suited to elderly individuals who have low-level care needs and do not require live-in care. However, it’s important to remember that the level of care needed may change as time goes on, so discussing if assisted living is the right option with a doctor, nurse or social worker is recomended.

For those living with dementia, assisted living may not provide enough support. Live-in care where nursing care is available 24/7 may be the best option to ensure you are safe, it’s also a much more sociable option.

If you are unsure of what level of care you or your loved one requires, arranging a care needs assessment can help determine which type of care is needed. This information can then be used to decide whether assisted living is the right option.

An old woman with a nurse

Advantages and Disadvantages

As with everything, there are both advantages and disadvantages to assisted living services. However, these may vary depending on your personal situation.


There are many more benefits to assisted living than just having a helping hand with daily tasks. It can actually majorly improve the life and wellbeing of someone who requires assistance. It can also take a huge weight off of loved ones’ minds, knowing that their loved one is cared for.

According to the Quality of Life in Assisted Living Survey, 87% of residents who moved into assisted living and 78% of their family members stated that they were satisfied with the overall experience in the community.

Not only can an assisted living community provide a solution to the elderly who experience feelings of loneliness or isolation, poor health, poor hygiene and financial mismanagement, but they can also provide the elderly with much more independence, allowing them to enjoy their later years.


Unlike nursing homes, assisted living facilities can lack in medical care depending on the level of needs required. Whilst some assisted living facilities do offer skilled nursing care, nurses aren’t usually available 24/7.

Another potential disadvantage to assisted living is that whilst residents are encouraged to maintain their independence, help may be offered on a scheduled basis, such as meals and bathing.

Types of Assisted Living Facilities

Ranging from self-contained units like groups of houses and bungalows to apartments in a larger building, assisted living facilities are usually secure and inaccessible to the general public. Residents and staff only will have access and visitors will usually have to be admitted.

Some assisted living communities may have a selection of leisure facilities on-site, such as cafès, shops, hairdressers and gardens where residents can relax. Communities with these facilities provide a secure environment for those living there to maintain independence.

Renting Assisted Living Housing

Renting can be helpful if your or your loved ones’ needs change and moving to a care home is required. Renting could also curb costs if repairs need to be made to the home.

Understanding the terms of your tenancy if you are renting with a private landlord is important, as most private tenancies provide very little security of tenure.

Buying Assisted Living Housing

Assisted living accommodation is inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), meaning each facility is provided with a quality rating. These reports and ratings are available on the CQC website and it allows you to find good quality developments in your desired area.

Most assisted living housing is sold on a leasehold basis, meaning there may be some restrictions in the lease if you want to sell or leave the property in your will. Being aware of a full breakdown of charges and fees before buying assisted living housing is vital.

Assisted Living Costs

The cost of assisted living can vary greatly depending on where it is located, whether it is rented or bought, the type of facilities, the level of care required and the chosen scheme, so it’s difficult to determine an exact cost. However, the cost of assisted living is generally lower than residential care.

There are a variety of ongoing charges that come with assisted living, as well as a regular service charge to cover the care provided. Your living costs will also depend on whether you are renting or buying.

Council tax, water rates and energy bills are just some of the extra charges that come with living in an assisted living facility. Whilst some of these charges may be included in your service charge for communal areas, it’s best to budget for your personal bills too.

It’s vital to be clear about what charges and fees you have to pay, including any one-offs, such as admin or exit fees, before you make any commitments.

More and more assisted living facilities are providing state-of-the-art and luxurious facilities and have many different activities for residents to join in with, however, these facilities mean cost and any other charges are generally higher.

Assisted Living Schemes

Assisted living schemes are the perfect way for you or your loved one to remain independent whilst receiving the level of help they need. Assisted living schemes also provide residents with a sense of community as they are often home to a selection of communal areas.

Residents can also likely benefit from a programme of communal activities, keeping them active and engaged.

Things to Consider

Before moving into assisted living, there are a lot of things to think about to ensure the right decision is made. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Care needs - Deciphering what level of care and assistance you require is an important aspect to consider when looking into assisted living. For example, you may like the various features that come with extra care housing, but if you don’t require the levels of assistance that assisted living provides, you may prefer living in sheltered housing instead. Sheltered housing provides lower levels of support to those who require it.

  • Cost - As you already know, in addition to paying rent or mortgage payments and bills, assisted living residents usually have to pay a regular service charge. Making sure these ongoing charges are affordable is vital.

    It’s common for assisted living apartments to be sold on a leasehold basis, so this normally means paying rent to the freeholder. The terms for this situation could include various charges such as an exit fee.

    You should fully understand all costs involved with assisted living and how often they are charged before you commit.

  • Property - Like with all potential properties, it’s important to know that it’s right for you before you make any commitments. Is the property in the right location for you? Is there enough space for your belongings? Is it in a good location and within a short distance of your loved ones? Are there enough amenities such as shops and entertainment nearby?

    Making sure the property meets all of your requirements before making any commitments will ensure you find the best assisted living situation for you.

How to Get Started

Now you understand all things assisted living, here’s how you can get started.

Assisted living housing is generally available to rent or buy from housing associations, local authorities, charities or private companies. Assisted living schemes generally have strict eligibility criteria, for example, you must be over the age of 55 or require a certain level of care.

Once a needs assessment has been carried out, assisted living schemes in your local area may be recommended by the council and will provide you with the help needed to arrange it.

You and your loved ones must be fully aware of the costs, living situation and care provided before you commit to a scheme.

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