Shared Living: Social Relations in Supported Housing

By Rob Cooper, Lynn Watson and Graham Allen.

University of Sheffield/Community Care


ISBN 0 907 48417 4

This report is one in the long-established series on research in
social services published jointly by Community Care and the
University of Sheffield. Its subject ‘shared living’ is complex and
relevant to practice, but one which has been neglected by social
researchers. In approaching their subject, the authors undertook
work on four well-established housing associations, each with a
commitment to shared living in its portfolio.

The research evidence was obtained from extensive postal
surveys, discussions with managers and support workers, and
interviews with residents in shared housing. In summarising the
study the authors describe it as one which examines the effects of
shared living on the lives of residents while also providing
opportunities to review the role of long-term shared accommodation
within a wider continuum of supported housing.

Within a clearly written discussion attention is paid to the
housing and support needs of residents, the experiences of
loneliness and social integration and styles of management in the
four participating organisations. Consequently, the resulting
report strives to balance survey data with network and
organisational analysis and to address issues of direct policy

In a report only 40-odd pages long, the authors succeed fairly
well in tackling their central concerns. The empirical data is
clearly presented and sustains their view that shared housing
provides the supportive environment and ‘integrative security’
which so many residents have previously lacked. More
controversially, in outlining a future for shared housing, the
authors mark off the interests of its residents from recipients of
community care – a policy of ‘little relevance to the great
majority’! While one may not wish to yield to this view, or their
judgement on the future of shared housing, Shared Living is a
bright addition to the literature on housing and the social
services which deserves a place on the bookshelves of policy makers
and practitioners.

Peter Arnold is professor of policy studies and dean of school
at the University of Humberside. He is the co-author of several
reports on housing and community care including Community Care: The
Housing Dimension (Community Care and the Joseph Rowntree
Foundation, 1993)

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