Last year, more than 4 million people across the UK had been identified as clinically vulnerable. Once we cast the net further to include the broadly vulnerable, the numbers are much higher - however, no studies have been done to estimate just how many. The definition of vulnerable people includes older persons, those diagnosed with a disability, mental health condition or addiction; or those without a home. The term is getting broader too. The good news is that now, more than ever, housing options are available to ensure people are provided with a safe and secure space.
There are most options for older persons. Residential care homes, assisted living or live-in care provide a wide variety of support based on the amount required. Care homes ensure people are protected 24/7, with hands-on support for everything from food and drink to monitoring medication and exercise levels. Sheltered housing offers a more hands-off ‘available when you need it’ approach to care and allows the older person far more independence. Close care offers sheltered accommodation on the same site as a care home. There’s no longer a ‘one size fits all’ approach to care. In the modern age, tailored assistance offers more options than ever before.
Similarly, sheltered housing schemes are offered for adults with a disability. The core benefit is independent living and communal facilities, with emergency warden drop-in just a phone call away. Shared lives schemes or ‘adult placements’ matches adults requiring care and support with a carer, in many cases living in placement in the home.
As of July 2021, individuals have an automatic priority need if they are homeless because of domestic abuse. This option is also extended to refugees, veterans and those who have recently left the prison system. Whilst round-the-clock care is not essential, the option of a safe space is a crucial step out of vulnerability. In such a case, aftercare is provided in the form of floating support. This helps to bridge the space between moving out of temporary accommodation and into a private property. In the moving process, support is provided in the form of setting up utilities, budgeting and writing CVs.
For those still in crisis or a vulnerable situation, temporary accommodation is offered, along with ongoing support. Crisis houses are an example, so too are short-stay hostels. Using the example of a person exiting a harmful relationship, support would be provided in the form of helping them to develop the skills to live on their own. In such a situation, a support worker may too be assigned.
These are often temporary solutions at the end of a lengthy application process. However, emergency on-the-spot support can also be provided. For example, women’s refuges are safe houses for escaping domestic abuse. Increasingly, these are being extended to accommodate more of the protected characteristics. Some charities provide funding for men’s refuges as well as those identifying as LGBTQ+. Whilst vulnerability continues to broaden as a term, it’s important that support and tailored accommodation continues to adapt with it.