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The Advantages of Supported Living for Adults with Disabilities

4th June 2024

In a recent article published by Dimensions, a leading provider of support for people with learning disabilities and autism, they delve into the concept of supported living and how it differs from traditional residential care settings.  

When exploring long-term living options for adults with learning disabilities or autism, supported living offers some distinct advantages over traditional residential care facilities. While residential care homes certainly have their place, supported living allows for greater independence, choice, and control. 

What is supported living? 

In a supported living arrangement, the individual has their own tenancy agreement and private residence, just like anyone else renting a home. They pay their own rent, utilities, and living expenses through government benefits and financial assistance. Crucially, their housing situation is separate from the support services they receive. 

Support staff come into the home to provide whatever level of assistance is needed, but the individual has their own front door and personal living space. This separation of housing and care provides major advantages: 

Independence and choice 

With their own tenancy, individuals have security of tenure and cannot simply be moved out as long as they uphold their agreement. They get to choose where they live and have a voice in which support provider serves them. If they are unhappy with their care, they can switch providers without being forced to move homes. 

Supported living emulates more closely how those without disabilities live - managing their own households and day-to-day lives with external support as needed. This independence and autonomy help adults with disabilities gain critical life skills. 

Privacy and community integration 

Having one's own front door provides a sense of ownership and privacy that is difficult to replicate in a group home setting. Individuals can come and go as they please, have guests over, and enjoy personal space and independence. 

Additionally, supported living keeps people integrated within communities rather than relatively isolated group home complexes. This community-based independence models a more inclusive, enriching lifestyle. 

Personalised and flexible support  

Because the individual pays for staff support through benefits, the level of assistance can be customised to their specific needs and preferences. As those needs change over time, the support services can adapt accordingly while their housing remains stable. 

Supported living empowers self-determination and ensures care is truly person-centred rather than adhering to the limitations of a one-size-fits-all residential facility. 

The Benefits of Residential Care 

Of course, supported living is not the best fit for every situation. Those with more intensive, around-the-clock needs may be better served by the comprehensive personal and medical care provided in a residential facility with staff onsite 24/7. 

Residential care can offer greater community integration for those who require highly specialised services or those who do not desire the independence and responsibilities of their own home. The appropriate option depends on the specific abilities, needs, and desired lifestyle of each individual and their loved ones. 

For many adults with disabilities though, supported living provides the ideal balance of personal autonomy and external support to help them live as independently as possible within their communities. The advantages of choice, privacy, and customised care make it an empowering model worth exploring. 

The article by Dimension offers a great perspective into the supported living sector and sheds light on the advantages of this model that allows individuals to live more independently in their own homes rather than a more institutionalised residential facility.  

Dimensions explains what supported living entails and contrasts it with the residential care approach, providing valuable insight into how these two options compare for those exploring long-term living situations.  You can find the full article here: Supported Living for Adults with Learning Disabilities | Dimensions (dimensions-uk.org)

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