Living independently - housing options for adults and older people

Living independently

Most people want to stay independent in their own home for as long as possible. You can do this by:

  • using equipment and technology to increase your confidence around your home, and keep you safe
  • adapting your home, for example swapping your bath for a shower
  • moving to a more suitable home. This makes it more likely that you can remain independent for life
  • getting help with things you find difficult. For example cleaning, gardening, or making meal times easier
  • considering personal care

The Housing Options for Older People website can assess your current housing and you needs and make recommendations.

You can make adaptations to your home so that you can continue living there for longer.

The Safe and Well service may be able to help you in the first instance.

Simple adaptations

Some adaptations are relatively simple changes to you home and might include :

  • grab rails around the bath, shower, toilet or elsewhere
  • additional banister rails on your staircase
  • small steps to ease access to doors

We have a contract with Age UK to provide a Handy Person Service. The Handy Person can help older and disabled people with simple home adaptations. Call Age UK between 9am and 4.30pm on 01480 700205 or email

More information on Age UK Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Major Adaptations

Before making major adaptations to your home, you should consider whether it might be better to consider moving to alternative accommodation that better suits your needs .

If that is not possible, you may need to consider making major adaptations to your home such as

  • An over bath shower or level access shower
  • A stair lift or through floor lift
  • Wheelchair ramps
  • Widening doorways

These should not be undertaken without careful research and planning. You and your family may be able to pay for the adaptations you need and this may be quicker and give you more choice and control.

However, if you are disabled or have a long-term health condition, affecting access in and around your home, you may be eligible for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) -information on GOV.UK. 

You may need an Occupational Therapy assessment before applying for a DFG. You can contact us to do this.

Contact us through our online contact form

Telephone: 0345 045 5202
9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday

The grants are administered by District Councils and their associated Home Improvement Agencies.

Further information

You can get information on making changes and adaptations at the Age UK website.

Age UK has a factsheet on funding repair, improvements and adaptations that sets out in some detail funding options.

HM Revenue & Customs has information about VAT relief which may be available when purchasing certain items for use by a disabled person.

Help with home maintenance

Most councils offer a grant aid or loan scheme for home maintenance such as roof repairs, window replacement where windows are letting in water, and damp proofing. Some may also provide a handyman scheme for more minor repairs.

For further information about what is available in your area, please contact your local housing department - contact details are at the bottom of the page. 

Cambridgeshire Handyperson Service

Age UK provides our Cambridgeshire Handyperson Service. They can help with minor alterations, repairs, DIY and the installation of grab rails and key safes.

Handyperson Service information on Age UK website


There is help available with maintaining your garden. The district councils in Cambridgeshire offer assistance to their tenants in different ways.

East Cambridgeshire has a Helping Hands Scheme at Ely & District Volunteer Scheme. 
Telephone: 01353 666 166

Fenland District Council has a garden maintenance scheme for elderly or disabled tenants of Roddens Housing Association. 
Telephone: 0800 116 447 or 0300 333 6557

Huntingdonshire Luminus tenants who are elderly or disabled can phone the number below for help in the garden. 
Telephone: 01480 428 777

If you don't qualify for the above services you can find a gardener through approved trader scheme. Find out more at the Buy with Confidence website.

You may also be able to find help with gardening through timebanking. This is where people offer time and skills in exchange for other people's time and skills.

Assistance schemes

WaterCare Service

Anglian Water offers a WaterCare Service to customers who range from nursing mothers with children under the age of one to kidney dialysis patients who have a dialysis machine at home; customers who have sight or hearing difficulties to those who are frail and elderly or classed as disabled. Anyone who registers for the WaterCare Service will get:

  • extra help, such as provision of bottled water, when their water supply is interrupted due to planned or emergency works
  • special tariffs for customers whose water use is metered
  • alternative ways of receiving information, such as in Braille, large print or audio
  • caller identity check for reassurance against bogus callers

To find out more or to apply to join the service, call 08457 919 155 or visit the Anglian Water website. You can also apply on behalf of a family member or neighbour who may benefit from the service.

Getting help with your wheelie bins

District councils will offer assistance for people who need support with getting their rubbish and recycling bins out. Go online at each council's website to find out more details. If getting assistance isn’t possible, you might think about asking for a smaller bin that is easier to manage.

Timebanking and time credits are a way to use your skills and time to gain help back from other people with different skills.  For example you may be able to gain time credits through sewing, and spend them on getting someone to help with gardening.

You could think about employing a local cleaner, gardener or handyperson but make sure that they are reliable and trusted.

Domiciliary care agencies don't just provide personal care services. For a fee, they can also help with domestic chores, even if you don't need personal support. Search NHS Choices website for care services to find a provider near you and check that they meet national standards.

A mobile hairdresser visits you in your own home. They usually advertise locally or can be found by searching the Internet. You could telephone a local salon to see if they can do home appointments or you could contact a sheltered housing scheme in your area as they might be aware of someone. Most mobile hairdressers have both men and women as customers.

Age UK provides a Cambridgeshire Handyperson Service for those aged over 65, or with a disability. The aim is to improve safety and reduce the risk of accidents by providing a free assessment and home safety check and arranging for small jobs to be carried out.

Timebanking and time credits are a way to use your skills and time to gain help back from other people with different skills. 

Does the layout of your current home makes it difficult for you to get about? Moving to a home which better suits your needs can help you live independently for life. There is an online housing options app, Housing Options for Older People website. This looks at your housing needs and concerns, and offers suggestions and details of local services which may be able to help. You can also get more information on housing option from FirstStop Care Advice website.

If you do feel you need to move, there are a number of options to consider and things to think about. Such as:

  • downsizing to a smaller home
  • buying or renting something different
  • moving in with family or friends
  • moving into sheltered, Extra Care or retirement housing (which might be bought or rented)
  • finding out about park homes and almshouses
  • finding out about social housing

Supported and sheltered housing

This helps people with disabilities, older people, and people with other support needs, to live as independently as possible. Supported housing can be the stepping stone to independent living.

There are over 130 sheltered housing schemes in Cambridgeshire. All tenants have access to a support service. This could be a scheme manager or a visiting support service for people aged 65 years and above..

All schemes should have a 24 hour call system for emergencies.

Accommodation is usually self-contained. Most schemes have a communal lounge, laundry room and a garden. Many schemes run social events and these are usually organised by residents.

Extra Care housing

Extra Care Housing combines accommodation with care and support services. Find out more on our Extra Care Housing webpage.

Find out about supported, sheltered, or extra-care housing

Your district council's housing advice service can give more information on sheltered housing and extra-care housing in your area and advise whether there is a waiting list.

The district and city councils in Cambridgeshire have the legal responsibility for housing and homelessness. They are known as housing authorities. Their duties include providing social housing. They can give information and advice for a range of housing, contact your local council (below).

Housing information and advice

Cambridgeshire County Council does not provide housing, so we cannot offer advice. However there are other places to go for help.

The city and district councils provide free, confidential housing advice. They help both tenants and homeowners. They can advise you on options and legal rights. This includes homelessness, benefits, social housing, renting and eviction. 

Social housing is also managed by the district councils or housing associations.

Age UK has a guide to help you plan your future housing needs. It covers sheltered housing and information about buying and renting retirement accommodation.

The Elderly Accommodation Council (EAC) offers advice to help older people make informed decisions on their housing and care needs. It has information about sheltered housing that is available to rent privately.

Papworth Trust provides information and advice for people with disabilities on a range of subjects, including housing.