Shared supported housing

This fact sheet describes shared housing where each person has their own room with support.A common form of provision for people with learning disabilities is ordinary or purpose built houses shared by a small number of disabled people. Typically this is 3, 4 or 5 people. Each person has their own bedroom, very occasionally two people may share.

There will be an established and funded level of staff support, from visiting to 24 hour presence.

The rest of the property is communal space used by tenants collectively and normally this will include at least a lounge, kitchen and dining area. There may be additional facilities like a sensory room, laundry, staff sleep-in room and some schemes will for example have en suite bathrooms rather than a shared bathroom. Staff may or may not also live in the group home.

What distinguishes an unregistered shared house from a similar building which is designated as a registered care home is whether the care and operational arrangements require registration with the Care Quality Commission as an 'establishment' or not. This is explored more fully in the notes section.

If personal care is provided (defined as physical and intimate touching and not including general social care or housing related support) the care provider will have to be registered as a domiciliary care provider by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) but this is different from the whole building and service being registered as a care home. In this circumstance it is only the personal care element of the service that is regulated and monitored by CQC.

How to access

This is a special form of provision for a particular needs group so access is likely to be by a referral to the landlord which is likely to be managed by referral procedure agreed between the landlord and Adult Social care as the care and support funder. This procedure should describe how existing tenants are to be consulted by the landlord and how their views are taken into consideration when offering a new tenancy.

There are a large number of providers of group homes in the public, charitable and private sector. Increasingly, the landlord will not be the same organisation that is commissioned to provide care or support. In a registered home the landlord and care provider are usually the same.

Pros and cons


  • A small group home may be less institutional than a similar registered care home
  • Possible for residents to collectively have some say over who provides care, how the building is run and who is offered a room when vacancies arise
  • Fewer externally imposed rules and regulations, both building and services can be designed to meet individual needs
  • Separation of landlord function from care provision
  • Can have a tenancy and reasonable security of tenure whereas in a care home there is no security of tenure.


  • Absence of inspection and monitoring of service by Care Quality Commission
  • No guarantee of minimum standards through any statutory process unless support is funded in whole or in part by Supporting People Grant, in which case the Supporting People authority should carry out reviews and monitor the support service.

How the money works

In a registered care home people are usually placed by Adult Social Care (unless people self-fund) who then meet the costs which include meals and everything else. The individual is allowed a small ìpersonal allowanceî only. In an unregistered home, arrangements are more varied but generally the individual will be a tenant and therefore able to claim Housing Benefit to meet the rent (and eligible service charges).

Care will be funded by Adult Social Care who will contract with the care provider or conceivably give the individual the equivalent as a Direct Payment or Personal Budget. Some unregistered shared homes are based purely on support with no personal care required; Supporting People Grant may fund the housing related support element of the support with Adult Social Care funding any general social care provision.

The individual will be entitled to a raft of welfare benefits in the normal way on an individual basis. Household bills will normally be divided up between residents on an agreed basis set out in an agreement.

Other issues

The question of which services require registration with the Care Quality Commission is complex. Under the Care Standards Act 2000 'an establishment' is a care home if it provides accommodation together with nursing or personal care and 'an establishment is not a care home unless the care which it provides includes assistance with bodily functions where such assistance is required'.

In unregistered shared accommodation it is more likely:

  • The individual resident will have a proper tenancy or lease and right to occupy a part of the property as their own
  • With this goes various rights based on housing law and the resident will have some control over their property
  • Personal Care will be separately contracted and funded from housing services
  • In some cases, even if the conditions described above are not in place, registration will not be required because intimate personal care is not provided.
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Learning Disability England
Birmingham Research Park
97 Vincent Drive
Birmingham, B15 2SQ, England
Tel. 0300 2010455
Learning Disability England
Registered company: 4233275
Registered Charity No. 1092587