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Sheltered housing schemes offer specially designed housing for older people.

Most people need to be over a certain age. It may be as low as 50 years old, up to 60 and over. You may need to demonstrate a need to be in sheltered housing. 

The aim is to provide accommodation for:

  • current Bedford Borough residents, or
  • those who have a connection to Bedford either through having lived here in the past, or
  • because they have close relatives living in the area and want to move to be near them in order to be able to access their help or support.

It may not suitable for:

  • frail elderly people with higher care or support needs eg people with moderate or severe dementia
  • people who need help to use toilet facilities
  • need help to feed themselves.

For advice on other services that are able to meet higher needs, please contact Bedford Borough’s Adult Social Care Team on 01234 276094 or 276168.

How to apply for sheltered housing

To apply for sheltered housing, you need to be on the housing register by completing an online application at My Home Options Choice Based Letting

If you're already on the Housing Register, request a revision form and indicate on it that you're interested in being considered for housing for older people.

Have a look at the 'housing for older people' options.

You can talk to our Housing Options Team on 01234 718058 or email

Each unit of accommodation in a sheltered housing scheme has its own front door. Schemes comprise of groups of unfurnished self-contained flats or bungalows.

Some schemes are modern complexes with communal facilities such as a lounge, laundry, guest room and gardens, whilst others are groups of bungalows or flats, sometimes with a small individual garden. Accommodation is available for couples and for single people.

Some schemes also have a dedicated scheme warden or scheme manager who is on site all or part of the day to support them, other schemes may give residents the option of having visits at agreed intervals from a visiting scheme manager. 

What will happen when I apply?

Your application will be assessed, and as long as the local connection criteria are met, you will be accepted onto the housing register and placed in Band S, which is specifically for people who require sheltered (retirement) housing. If you are in Band S, you will only be able to bid on sheltered housing properties through CBL.

It is not possible to say how long it may be before you are successful in your bidding for sheltered housing properties, and depending on where you want to live and the type of property you want, you may have to wait for quite a while. While you are bidding for properties, you may also wish to consider accessing the Community Alarm System (provided by BPHA) to bring peace of mind to you and your family in while you are waiting.

For more information on this Community Alarm System please call 01234 716420 or email

What happens if I am offered a place?

If you are successful in your bid for a property, you will then be formally offered the property. Once you have signed the tenancy acceptance form you will enjoy all the rights and privileges of an assured tenant.

You will also have an assured tenant's responsibilities, paying your own rent, running your home and providing your own meals. You may be eligible for Housing Benefit to help towards your rent and Supporting People grant to help with your support costs.

For more information about this please contact your local Council's Housing Benefit Section (please see details below), or your landlord (Housing Association).

For Bedford Borough Council, Housing Benefit Team please call 01234 718097 or email us at

You are expected, with the help of your friends and relatives, to make your own arrangements for moving in, and to meet the cost of doing so - just like any other house move. Your landlord will advise you about arrangements for your gas and/or electricity supply

Your landlord will provide you with a tenancy agreement to sign and let you know how quickly you will be able to move in. If the property that you have been offered is ready to let, you may be asked to move in at short notice, possibly within two weeks. This is something that you would need to discuss with the landlord of the property.

Living in sheltered housing means that you will be able keep; and for as long as possible be encouraged to maintain, your own independence. You will have your own front door and be free at all times to come and go as you please.

You are simply asked to let the scheme manager or warden know if you intend to go away anywhere, or if you will not be there at the time you that they would normally visit you.

When is the warden or scheme manager on duty?

Different organisations have different arrangements for wardens/scheme managers, and not all schemes have an onsite warden/schemes manager. Your service provider will explain arrangements to you. 

Even if there is no warden/scheme manager on site, there is always access to assistance via the alarm system which is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.  

Does the warden/scheme manager hold information about me?

Yes, the names, addresses and telephone numbers of your next-of-kin and close friends, your doctor and any relevant details of your health are kept by the warden/scheme manager, and the central control office. This is a confidential record and its purpose is to enable contact to be made with the appropriate person in the event of illness or an accident, or any other problem.   

What is the warden/scheme manager's role?

This may vary depending on the organisation, but generally the warden/scheme manager is there to provide low level support or assistance when needed. Often support will be provided by regular visits from your warden/scheme manager where they will check that you are alright and agree any areas that you may need assistance with, eg completing a form, providing contact details for other services, requesting assessments or liaising with carers on your behalf.

Your warden/scheme manager will also try to assist you in an emergency eg by contacting your family, requesting medical assistance or arranging emergency repairs. If there is an emergency and your warden/scheme manager is not on site, then you will be able to get help by pulling your alarm cord instead.

Wardens/scheme managers are practical and understanding people, sympathetic to the problems of ageing. They are carefully recruited and trained to encourage you to look after yourself and to lead an active independent life.

If you need home care services, meals on wheels or special household aids, the warden/scheme manager will try to help you obtain them by contacting the local Social Services office for you.

At some schemes the warden/scheme manager may hold a master key that will allow them to open your door in an emergency or with your clear permission. Otherwise, no warden/scheme manager may enter your home unless you invite him or her to do so.

Are there things a warden/scheme manager does not do?

Wardens/scheme managers are only there to provide you with low level support. They can not provide care (e.g. assistance to bathe or eat), medical treatment, do domestic chores such as cleaning, cooking, providing meals and shopping or look after your money or valuables. Neither are they permitted to administer drugs and medicines to you.

However, your warden/scheme manager may be able to help you to make arrangements for other people to visit you to provide some or all of these services if you need them. 

How do I contact someone in an emergency?

Each scheme is equipped with an alarm system. All you need to do is to pull one of the special alarm cords or press the button on your pendant alarm and the call will be answered by either the warden/scheme manager (if they are on site) or someone from the alarm service. You need only to pull the cord, or press the button once and when someone answers you can say what is wrong from wherever you are in your home. If you cannot speak you can be assured that whoever answers the call will ensure that help is sent immediately. The same applies if you have a mishap in one of the communal areas and need to pull the cord there.   

What if the warden/scheme manager is away?

Again this will vary depending on the organisation. Some services may have someone to provide partial or full cover while they are away, others may just switch all calls through to the alarms service.    

Is there a scheme doctor?

No. Each tenant has his or her own doctor. Of course if your are moving into the area you may have to change your present arrangements, but it is up to you which local doctors list you apply to join.   

What other facilities are available?

The facilities available will vary depending on the scheme. However most schemes will have a communal lounge and kitchen area for residents and many will also have a communal garden area.

Generally details of the facilities at the property will be included in the description provided for Choice Based Lettings (CBL).  

In most schemes you will be responsible for all internal decoration and cleaning, including your windows, although the outside of your windows will be cleaned by your landlord or their contractors.

Your landlord is also responsible for most repairs to the property, and they will advise you how to report any repairs or concerns.  

Who will pay my rent?

You are responsible for paying your rent. You may be eligible for Housing Benefit to help towards your rent and Supporting People grant to help with your support costs. For more information about this please contact your local Council's Housing Benefit Section (please see details below), or your Landlord (Housing Association).

For Bedford Borough Council, Housing Benefit Team please call 01234 718097 or email

How secure is my sheltered home?

Most sheltered housing schemes will have a door entry system of some sort that will limit who can enter the building. Individual flat and bungalow doors will be fitted with good quality locks.

Some people like to fix additional locks or chains, but you must be aware that by doing this you may keep the warden out in an emergency. The master key, when it has to be used, will open you door and admit the warden, but he or she cannot get in quickly to help you if there are other locks and chains on the door and you cannot release them yourself.

The alarm is there and should be used without hesitation if you are at all suspicious of anyone trying to gain admission to your home.

Legitimate callers and all official visitors carry official identification. You should always ask to see this and check it carefully before admitting anyone you do not know.

Remember: If in doubt - do not open your door, pull the cord!

Can I invite guests to stay from time to time?

Many schemes are able to offer guest room accommodation to relatives and friends of sheltered housing tenants. There will be a charge for using this accommodation. Your landlord will be able to provide you with details of what is available and the charges.   

What happens in the communal lounge?

To some extent it is up to you. Tenants use the room for meetings, clubs, social and recreational activities, or just to meet up for a cup of tea and a chat. It is up to you and your neighbours to decide what you want and to arrange it if you wish.

The wardens/scheme managers are willing to help in this and to encourage a wide range of activities and outings.

All schemes are encouraged to invite the elderly neighbours living outside sheltered housing to events in the communal lounge.

Is my dwelling covered by insurance?

Insurance of buildings is, of course, the responsibility of the landlord. But you are solely responsible for insuring your household contents and possessions and you are strongly advised to take out household contents an insurance.   

What if I want to move?

This is your home. Like any other assured tenant you can give notice to terminate your tenancy and move out if you wish to. If you would actually like to move to a different sheltered housing scheme, either with the same landlord or a different one, then you should talk to your landlord about this before you give notice. They will then be able to advise you how to go about requesting a move to a different service. 

If you are living as a couple and one of you dies, the surviving partner will not be required to move, even if your dwelling is designed for two people. However, if the accommodation is specifically designed for a disabled person and the surviving partner does not need those facilities, your landlord may offer suitable alternative accommodation.  

What if I am dissatisfied with the sheltered housing service?

If you are unhappy with any part of your service, you can speak to your warden/scheme manager, who will try to resolve the problem for you if they can. If they are unable to assist with your problem, then you will be able to make a complaint to your landlord. You should be given information on how to make a complaint when you move in, but the warden/scheme manager will also be able to advise you on how to do this.