Living Independently in Dorset – A Guide to Options Available

Living Independently in Dorset – A Guide to Options Available

If your elderly parent or relative is finding it difficult to continue living independently in Dorset, but you do not feel they are yet ready to move in to a care home, there are some other options worth considering.

Whether they need more help from others, more company, a smaller home, or a home better suited to their mobility, Age Space is here to help you find a solution that can maintain their independence in Dorset.

Living Independently in Dorset – Downsizing

Downsizing can help to sustain the freedom of living independently, while removing some of the difficulties that come with living in a larger home. This can include dealing with stairs, garden maintenance, house cleaning and travel. There can also be financial benefits to downsizing, in that you can free up capital – potentially for future care costs.

There are many factors to consider when planning to downsize, including access to care, transport links and proximity to family and friends. For more advice on downsizing, you can look at our Tips For Helping Elderly Parents Downsize. 

NHS Services

Access to key healthcare services is one of the most important things to consider when choosing where to move. You can use our page giving an overview of Elderly Care Services in Dorset to find out more the provision of healthcare in each area of Dorset.


It is important to consider the transport services and schemes available for older people in a particular area, especially if your parents no longer drive. This is particularly true in terms of being able to access health appointments. Many more rural areas in Dorset suffer from a lack of public transport options. To find out more about transport support for older people in Dorset, look at our guides to Patient Transport Services in Dorset and local Community Transport Schemes.

Sheltered Housing in Dorset

Sheltered housing, also known as Extra Care housing, is accommodation that is specifically designed for older people to allow them to continue living independently, in a safer environment. Usually it will be a self-contained flat within a larger block, with communal facilities. 

Most sheltered housing offers 24-hour emergency care, ongoing check-ups and support from staff, communal social spaces, dining areas, and activities for residents. 

Sheltered housing is available throughout Dorset, including from housing associations, although it can also be bought or rented privately. 

Extra Care housing schemes are available to rent from private landlords, Housing Associations or charitable organisations. The Elderly Accommodation Council (EAC) has a search facility to help find these.

To find out if you are eligible for Extra Care housing, you can complete a housing application form and your name will be placed on the register. Make the application with Dorset Home Choice online here.

Before applying to an Extra Care sheltered housing scheme your relative will most likely need to undergo a care needs assessment. You can find out more from Age Space’s guide to Getting a Care Needs Assessment. 

Alternatively, you can search for private sheltered housing in Dorset using the Housing Care website or Retirement Homesearch

Retirement Housing

Retirement housing is similar to sheltered housing, but with a greater focus on communal living and shared facilities. Generally speaking, retirement homes offer the opportunity to rent or buy a room or apartment within a larger complex/building with some shared facilities. Retirement homes differ from nursing homes in that there is less nursing care immediately available to residents. 

living independently dorset

As with care homes, many retirement homes ask that potential residents undergo a care needs assessment, to check that they are able to meet the resident’s care needs. You can search for retirement homes in Dorset from the website.

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