Care Homes vs Supported Living

Care Homes vs. Supported Living in the UK: Understanding the Differences


As the population in the United Kingdom continues to age, the demand for various types of care and support services for older adults and individuals with disabilities has grown. Two prominent options for such care are care homes and supported living arrangements. While both provide essential services, they differ significantly in terms of their structures, levels of independence, and the overall experience they offer. In this article, we will explore the key distinctions between care homes and supported living in the UK.

Care Homes

  1. Structured Environment:
    • Care homes are residential facilities where individuals live together under 24/7 supervision and care.
    • Residents typically have their own private rooms but share communal spaces such as dining areas and common rooms.
    • Trained staff members provide round-the-clock care, assistance with daily activities, and medical support as needed.
  2. Level of Independence:
    • Residents in care homes often have a higher level of care needs, which may include assistance with bathing, dressing, and medication management.
    • The environment is more structured, and routines are established by the staff to ensure residents’ safety and well-being.
    • Social interaction is primarily within the care home community.
  3. Funding:
    • Care homes are often funded by local authorities, the NHS (National Health Service), or privately paid for by residents or their families.
    • Costs can vary widely depending on the location and the level of care provided.

Supported Living

  1. Independent Living:
    • Supported living arrangements offer individuals more independence and autonomy.
    • Individuals live in their own self-contained flats or houses, either alone or with others, depending on their preferences.
    • Support workers visit regularly to provide assistance and support with daily tasks.
  2. Level of Independence:
    • Supported living is designed for individuals who require less intensive care and are more capable of living independently.
    • Residents have more control over their daily routines and decisions, including meal planning and social activities.
    • The goal is to promote self-sufficiency and community integration.
  3. Funding:
    • Supported living is often funded by local authorities or housing associations.
    • Funding may cover the cost of accommodation, support staff, and some daily living expenses.

Key Considerations

  1. Care Needs:
    • The choice between care homes and supported living depends on an individual’s care needs. Care homes are suitable for those with higher care requirements, while supported living is more appropriate for those who can live more independently.
  2. Independence:
    • Supported living promotes greater independence and a more self-directed lifestyle, whereas care homes offer a more structured and supervised environment.
  3. Costs:
    • The cost of care homes can be higher, and funding options may vary, including self-funding, while supported living may offer more affordable options for those with lower care needs.
  4. Personal Preferences:
    • Personal preferences and the desire for more or less independence play a significant role in the decision-making process.


Care homes and supported living arrangements are both valuable options in the spectrum of care services available in the UK. Understanding the key differences between these two types of care can help individuals, families, and healthcare professionals make informed decisions about the most suitable option for their unique circumstances. Whether it’s the structured support of a care home or the greater independence of supported living, the goal is to provide the best possible care and quality of life for those in need.

The Care Quality Commision provide this description for Supported Living Services: By supported living we mean schemes that provide personal care to people as part of the support that they need to live in their own homes. The personal care is provided under separate contractual arrangements to those for the person’s housing. The accommodation is often shared, but can be single household.

The main difference between Supported Living and Domiciliary Care is: Care delivered to people living in single household accommodation that is owned or occupied by the person receiving care, and that occupation is entirely independent of the care arrangements (which remain at all times a visiting arrangement).

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