Independent living & housing

As your child grows older, you can support them towards independence. This could mean learning new skills that’ll help them start to do their own things. And in some cases it might lead to your child moving out of the family home.

In this article

Life skills

Gaining independence often starts with learning day-to-day practical skills and tasks.

You know your child’s strengths, but you could start with basic things like folding clothes or packing a school bag. Learning something new can help to give your child confidence. You may have to try slowly working towards changing your routine.

Around the home

All children and young people are different, but this may include:

Out and about

Independent travel training

Independent travel training is tailored and practical help for disabled people to travel by public transport, on foot or by bike. It aims to help children and young people travel independently and without fear so they can get to school or college, work and for social and leisure activities.

Find out more about independent travel training.

Managing money

As your son or daughter gets older, you might be thinking about their financial independence and how they’ll start to manage their own money.

You’ll also need to be aware of changes to any benefits payments you or they receive to help with their support as they turn 16.

Find out more about benefits and money.

Making friends and socialising

Having hobbies and interests can help your child to make friends and socialise. Having friends can be vital for well-being and will support their independence.

Find out more about supporting your child to make friends.

You might be interested in this information on friends, relationships and community from Preparing for Adulthood and this growing up and having fun blog from Mencap.

Housing options

Housing options should be something you talk about as part of ongoing transition planning for your child.

Your son or daughter’s school, college or other education provider should help them start to consider their housing options as they get older. They’ll help them think about who they would like to live with, the type of accommodation they’d like, and where.

If you live in England, your local authority should publish information about housing options, including independent living for young disabled adults, in their local offer. 

Below are some options.

Living at home

Living independently doesn’t necessarily mean living away from the family home.

If your son or daughter continues to live at home past 18 and qualifies for adult social care, they may get help to develop skills to live independently, such as personal care, managing money, travelling independently or making decisions.

The local authority may also provide additional short-term programmes to help towards independence, as well as equipment to help with daily living.

Disabled adults will usually have to pay an amount each week towards their care. The local authority will have a charging policy that will set out how they complete a financial assessment and how any care charges are applied. 

Shared Lives

Shared Lives is a scheme to help over 16s with support needs get the care they need while living in a private home with a family or an individual. You can find out if your local authority works with Shared Lives on the Shared Lives website.

Living in their own home

Some young people can be supported to live independently in their own home.

Supported housing

Supported housing usually offers 24-hour support for disabled adults. Private organisations, housing associations and charities all run supported housing schemes. Residents might live on their own in a flat, or they may share their accommodation with other people.

In supported housing, young disabled adults are encouraged to gain life skills and experiences, including menu planning, shopping and cooking, budgeting, and taking part in the general cleaning and upkeep of their home. Residents are also encouraged to take part in meaningful activities in the wider community, such as education courses, leisure activities, hobbies and socialising, as well as work opportunities and holidays.

There are often waiting lists for a place in a supported housing scheme.

Social or council housing

Social housing is houses or flats that are owned by the local authority, housing associations or charities. The rent is usually less than other homes.

If your son or daughter is considering council or social housing, you’ll need to contact your local authority’s housing department to see if they qualify for housing and how to apply. They will usually have to put their name on the housing register.

There are often waiting lists for suitable housing to become available. In many areas there is a shortage of housing, and it can be hard to find housing for a young adult’s needs.  

See the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s guidance on disabled people’s rights to housing.

Residential care

A young adult might live in residential care if they need more support than you can be given at home or in supported housing.

Residential care homes usually provide 24-hour personal care to a number of people living in a shared building. Residents living in a care home usually have complex needs that make it challenging to live independently. They should only be considered where people have high care needs, as they offer limited independence.

Nursing homes are residential care homes but must also have a registered and qualified nurse available 24 hours a day.

Useful resources