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Scand J Caring Sci. 2008 Jun;22(2):265-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2007.00529.x.

Sheltered housing compared to independent housing in the community.

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School for Public Health and Primary Care, Department of Health Organization, Policy and Economics, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.



With elderly people desiring to live independently as long as possible, traditional homes for the elderly are increasingly being transformed into sheltered accommodations. In order to assess the importance of housing for frail elderly people, elderly people at risk for institutionalization were studied in two living conditions: sheltered accommodation and living independently in the community.


A total of 317 elderly people at risk for institutionalization [91 men and 240 women, mean age = 83.3 (SD = 6.0)] were interviewed using a structured questionnaire with questions regarding home care and social service use, quality of life, subjective well-being, life satisfaction, autonomy, functional status, feelings of insecurity and loneliness.


Exactly 56.5% of the respondents were living in sheltered accommodation (n = 179) and 43.5% (n = 138) were living in regular houses. Although both groups were similar in demographic details and functional status, those in sheltered accommodation had a higher perceived autonomy, sense of security and quality of life. No differences were found with regard to subjective well-being or feelings of loneliness. Elderly people in regular houses needed more hours of housekeeping assistance. Those in sheltered accommodation participated more frequently in services like social activities and social restaurants, but made less use of day care facilities.


Affordable, decent and suitable noninstitutional housing with service provision play a vital role in the lives of elderly people. Compared with independent living in the community, sheltered accommodations provide added value. Sheltered housing should therefore be an integral part of long-term care policy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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