Finding somewhere to live

You may decide that you would like to continue to live with your family, and your families can support this, or you may decide you would like the chance to try and live independently. This is not as easy as just finding somewhere to live, there are many things for you and your family to consider and depending upon your choices the timescales for putting things in place can vary a lot.

So planning for this transition early enough (in good time) is important, and should at least be started at the preparation for adulthood review, which must happen in Year 9 of school.  It is also important to make sure that the right people are part of the review process, such as occupational therapist or social worker, depending upon your needs and what you think you would like for your future.

The My Housing Plan is a good place to start recording what you think are the important things you will need to think about when looking for somewhere to live.

Things that may need to be considered when you are doing this planning could include:

Once you have had a chance to think about what housing type you prefer, it may need to be considered if the property would need to be changed (adapted) to make it easier for you to live in, if you have a physical disability.  Some of these changes might be small, ie fitting a grab rail in the bathroom, but others may require building work, ie putting in a shower room. Remember, if you do not own the property, permission will probably be required from the property owner before any work is undertaken. A Disabled Facilities Grant may be available from the housing department to pay for any big changes. Find out more about adaptations in the home

Assistive technologies, which are a range of special equipment such as alarms and sensors may also help you live more easily and safely in your home.  

Moving from the family home to live independently could end up being a lonely experience, especially if you find it hard to make new friends. So the first step into independent living could be done as a small group of friends living together. There are real benefits to living with a small group of friends, such as a ready-made social group, but living with a friend can be very different from just having them as your friend. So having the chance to live together for short periods of time can help the group decide if they would like to live together, which household jobs they will need to share, what house rules they might like to put in place and what support would be needed.

If you prefer a housing type that does not include support, there are still support options available, these normally consists of a person (support worker) that will go into your home, for a short period of time during the day to help with a specific task, these options could include:

  • Floating support – this is when a person from a team of workers move from one person to another providing daily living assistance to people in their own homes.  This assistance may include domestic tasks (keeping yourself and your home tidy), budgeting (making sure that you pay your bills) and tenancy support (making sure that you look after the property and are a good neighbour)
  • Homecare support – this is where a support worker goes into a person’s home to undertake or help with daily living tasks. These are normally provided through social services and you may have to pay for this support
  • Tenancy support – this is where a Housing department or a charity can offer someone support to make sure that they follow the rules of their tenancy by paying their rent, being a good neighbour and keeping their property clean and tidy

Providing for your care and support comes under the responsibility of Norfolk County Councils Social Services department.  This could include an assessment for the provision of care in the home.

The list above gives only a brief description of the things you may need to consider when thinking about finding somewhere to live.

It is also very important to understand that once you become an adult you may be charged for any social care support you may require, and that the charges linked to residential homes means that you may have very little money left once you have paid for your accommodation.

For more information and housing advice contact The Housing and Support Alliance Tel 0300 2010 455 or enqiries@housingandsupport.org.uk

You may have already experienced living away from the family home, possibly to attend a residential school or as part of a residential respite short break or taking part in a programme run at your school, college or day service.  But for many people this will be a new experience, along with the expectation that you will have to be much more involved in doing the sort of things that go hand in hand with living independently, such as:

  • Keeping your home clean and tidy
  • Making a shopping list and then doing the shopping
  • Planning your day, to include both jobs that need doing and fun / social time
  • Any help you require around personal hygiene
  • Safety awareness

As part of your young person’s review these type of things should be considered and opportunities planned, and given to build up your skills as necessary. 

With all of the choices made it is now important to plan how this package will be paid for, and who might need to be involved to help make this happen.

The money to pay your rent or repayment of a mortgage, will likely come from a variety of sources including: -

Hopefully you have thought about what independent living skills you already have, and have a plan to build up the skills you will need.  You have also had a chance to think about whether you would like to live alone or with other people.

So now you need to find out about what are the options for housing in Norfolk?

  • Social housing – this is housing provided by the city or district councils, usually in partnership with a housing association.

    If you want to rent social housing from your city or district council then you must register on a Choice Based Letting Scheme first.  If your application is accepted you will be put into a band with people who have similar needs to you and you will be told what type of housing you are eligible to apply for. 

    You will only be able to bid on properties that you are interested in and eligible for.

    Some people with additional needs may be given a higher priority, depending upon their needs. Details of this can be found on the city or district council’s website.

    South Norfolk District Council Register

    North Norfolk District Council Register

    Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk

    Breckland Council Register

    Broadland Council Register

    Norwich City Council Register

    Great Yarmouth Borough Council

    If you apply for social housing, any care and support needed in your home will also be considered by the county councils social services department.

  • Private renting – this is renting a house which is owned by a private organisation or another person. To rent a house you will need to enter into an agreement with the house owner which is called a tenancy agreement.  The tenancy agreement sets out how much rent you need to pay and what other things you are responsible for paying for, for example, your bills and damage.
  • Cluster housing – this is small block of self-contained flats, which is purpose built or an existing block remodelled to provide homes for a small number of people with support on hand usually from a warden.
  • Shared Ownership schemes - this is where you have part ownership of a property and rent the other part from a registered provider. You will normally have a mortgage which is a sum of money that you borrow in order to buy the property. You then pay back the money using your welfare benefits. There are some rules around Shared Ownership including having to find money to put down when buying the property (called a deposit).
  • Sheltered housing - this is usually a small block of flats or bungalows with some communal areas shared by all. There will usually be an alarm system and a visiting or on site warden.
  • Supported Accommodation and Lodgings - This is where a landlord agrees to provide rented accommodation plus support services. The accommodation can be a room in the landlords own house or in a separate property. This accommodation is usually for people who require a low level of support
  • Supported Living – this is living in an ordinary or purpose built property with other people as tenants with support.  The landlord should be a different person or organisation from the provider of the support.  Some Supported Living schemes have housing associations as the owners of the property or the housing association will rent directly from a private landlord and then sublet to the person with additional needs. Some schemes are supported directly by the County Council. 
  • Buy to Rent - this is where your parent or other close relative buys (or builds) a property and then lets it out to you.  If the property has been purchased using a mortgage then the landlord who is your parent or close relative may use the rent to pay the mortgage. Where repaying the mortgage depends on the son or daughter or relative with additional needs getting Housing Benefit to cover the rent, it is very important to make sure that the tenancy is regarded as a commercial arrangement as it may be refused if it is regarded as a family arrangement.  It is also important to make sure that the Housing Benefit will be enough to pay the rent.
  • Adult Placement / Shared Lives Scheme - this is where you live with a family (not your own family) in their home and the family provide the support. The organisation in Norfolk which operates this service is called Guideposts.
  • Residential Home – this is having a room, or sometimes a flat in a building shared with a number of other people where there is 24-hour support and meals provided.
  • Group Homes – these are usually smaller than registered residential homes with three or four people sharing. Support staff either visit regularly or are there during the day and sometimes overnight.
  • The Voluntary Sector - Some voluntary organisations have set up charitable housing associations or particular housing schemes. A few charities have built larger ‘village communities’ for people with learning disabilities. One provider which offers community based living in Norfolk is called the Camphill Community which is at Thornage Hall near Holt.
  • Unregulated Accommodation – the type of accommodation offered depends upon your needs.  Examples of this type of housing is Steven Newing House (Benjamin Foundation) and Flagship Foyers at Stalham (Flagship Homes)

The Housing and Support Alliance website has several easy read stories that tell of peoples real life experiences of different type of housing.

With some of these types of housing you may be asked to sign an agreement or a contract. You may not be able to understand what this agreement or contract means so will not be able to sign them.  In law this is called not having the legal capacity. However, if you do lack capacity, another person may be able to sign on your behalf. As this subject can be difficult to understand, it is important to speak to someone who understands the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Additional information regarding housing and the mental capacity act can be found from: -

  • The Housing and Support Alliance - Choice, Contracts and Mental Capacity Act 2005, a guide written primarily for staff working with people with learning disabilities and with their families and support networks.
  • Mencap – Capacity and housing tenancies, a factsheet explaining what a housing tenancy is, issues of capacity and the law.