Collaborative housing and innovative social care practice (CHIC study)

Karen West In progress  


With a rapidly ageing population and a social care system in crisis, there is an urgent need for innovations in housing, ageing and care that can meet the needs of people who do not have close family support, who live alone, or, who fund their own social care. The potential of collaborative housing – housing that is user-led, self-organised, and designed to create supportive communities – to meet the housing, support and care needs of older people has long been recognized. It has not been a very common housing form in England compared with other European and North American countries, but there is now growing support for it from central government and local authorities. There is some evidence from international research that collaborative housing can support people as they age and increase their self-reliance.

There are no studies to date in the UK that have specifically looked at the role of collaborative housing in meeting the needs of older people for social care and support.


This study aims to understand the ways in which collaborative housing (CH) might meet the social care and support needs of older people, and is asking:

  • Can CH act as a preventative model of support negating or reducing the need for access to statutory and privately purchased sources of social care?
  • How are community assets and capabilities mobilised to promote mutual support (e.g. physical design, living arrangements, spaces for social interaction and community policies)?
  • How does mutual support provided in CH complement/interact with other formal or informal (family) care?
  • What do different types of CH offer in terms of supporting residents inclusion, independence and well-being?


The team will examine six different types of collaborative housing communities (both age exclusive and inter-generational) in detail through case studies.

Case studies will consist of individual interviews, focus groups and observations of daily life. In a series of workshops with key organisations like council leaders, carers’ representatives, people who make decisions about older people’s care, housing associations, the research will also examine how some of the good practices from these supportive communities might be taken up in other kinds of housing environments – e.g. extra care and sheltered housing as well as general needs housing.


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