About council independent living schemes (ILS)

What is independent living accommodation?

Independent Living Scheme (ILS) accommodation is specifically designed for older people, or for people who are disabled, to allow them to live independently. The schemes are for people who are generally active and independent - it is not for those seeking a care option. There are members of staff who regularly visit the schemes to check all is well but will not necessarily be at each scheme daily. Our aim is to support residents without intruding, maintaining both freedom and privacy.

Independent Living accommodation is available to people aged over 60, or those disabled of any age in certain circumstances (there are some housing association schemes open to those over 50 or 55 years old). The schemes consist of self-contained flats (studio flats or one-bedroom flats) with some communal facilities in most schemes. The communal facilities include a laundry, communal kitchen, and lounge and often a wet room. There are also a small number of bungalows next to a scheme for people who need that type of accommodation.

All properties have their own front door, kitchen, and bathroom, so residents can continue to live independently, and have the freedom to come and go as they please. Each scheme has an off-site Independent Living Officer (ILO) who is available to provide housing related advice to residents and carry out weekly health and safety inspections of the building. This also ensures that communal areas are clean and tidy, and the ILO will arrange any maintenance and repair issues with the relevant contractors.

What does your Independent Living Officer (ILO) do?

Your ILO is there to support you to live as independently as possible without intruding and while maintaining both your freedom and privacy.

Their role is to:

  • Assess if applicants who have applied for Independent Living accommodation are suitable. This is normally done by a phone assessment and ensures accommodation is offered to those who need the services provided and meet the minimum age criteria (usually 60 years old).
  • Carry out viewings of empty properties, sign up new tenants and explain how Independent Living accommodation works.
  • Help tenants with housing related matters such as paperwork or accessing benefits as well as signposting them to get support from external organisations such as Social Services.  
  • Complete an annual Wellbeing Plan with each tenant to ensure their needs are regularly reviewed, updated and any changes in personal circumstances are noted. If necessary, tenants can be signposted to other agencies for support.
  • Visit the schemes to carry out weekly health and safety checks.
  • Monitor the maintenance of schemes, including reporting communal repairs, responding to emergencies such as heating failures, floods or fires and monitoring the quality of cleaning and grounds maintenance.
  • Carry out regular welfare calls to tenants via the lifeline system if tenants have opted to receive the service. If tenants do not respond to their welfare call or are unwell, the ILO can inform the next of kin, contact the GP or care manager or call for an ambulance if necessary.
  • Provide general advice to help tenants remain independent in their own home such as referrals for adaptations.
  • Attending multi-agency meetings. These are joint meetings between the council, social services, Kent Police and any other relevant organisations aimed at helping tenants who are at risk of self-neglect, experiencing health issues or serious anti-social behaviour.
  • Deal with anti-social behaviour like noisy neighbours, vandalism and neighbour disputes.
  • Deal with tenancy issues such as successions, mutual exchanges, transfers etc.
  • Reporting communal repairs.
  • Liaising with contractors working in the building.
  • Keeping tenants informed through scheme meetings.

Please remember that your ILO is there to carry out the council’s duties as a landlord. They are not able to provide care functions, including but not limited to:

  • Shopping
  • Washing and drying clothes
  • Personal care such as dressing, helping in and out of bed etc
  • Cooking meals
  • Personal care
  • Picking up prescriptions/medication

If you need help with any care functions, you will need to contact Kent County Council by emailing social.services@kent.gov.uk or by phoning 03000 411111 (Mon to Fri 9-5) or outside of office hours call 03000 419191.