Are you someone who likes taking care of or supporting people who cannot carry out basic daily activities for themselves? Do you want to become your own boss? If YES, then you should consider opening a supported living business in your city. Please note that if you intend starting this type of business, it is advisable to first look at the existing laws and zonal regulations in the city you reside in to know what is expected of you.

The bottom line is that you would need to pay a visit to the regulatory bodies in your city to get all the information you need before you can legally open a supported living business in the UK. You can start your supported living business from a small town in the United Kingdom and if you are good at what you do, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand.

20 Steps on How to Start a Supported Living Business in UK

  1. Understand The Industry

Supported living or supportive living refers to a range of services and community living arrangements (CLAs) designed for individuals with disabilities to support them to attain or retain their independence. It is a form of healthcare that promotes service users residing within the community. It consists of both regulated and unregulated activities.

Regulated activities are set out under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (regulated activities) Regulations 2014 and is in the power of the provider, to ensure they are regulated for the correct activity. Supported living is the term given by local authorities in the United Kingdom to encompass a range of services designed to help disabled citizens retain their independence in their local community.

Previously, housing and support were usually provided by a charity or local council. Now mentally and physically disabled people can live in their own home and have personal support provided by another organization or by hiring a personal assistant (paid visiting or live-in carer).

A common element of supported living is the separation of housing and support. This means that as a tenant or homeowner, the person has a right to choose who provides their support and can change support arrangements without moving home or move home without changing support arrangements.

Statistics shows that over 600,000 people rely on supported housing to provide a secure place to live and to offer appropriate care and support. The purpose of supported housing is to enable people to live as independently as possible within their community, with a real focus on social inclusion.

With supported living options, subject to their fairer charging procedures, social services and health funding can pay for care and support that is needed. The welfare benefits system can help pay for housing and everyday living costs.

Supported Living can indeed be a very profitable industry but it requires a lot of commitment and people skills to succeed. From the beginning, you have to be clear on what model you want to adopt. Having a clear model ensures that service users get the best possible care. The three important factors to consider in supported living is the Service User, Person Centered Care and Legislation.

  1. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographics composition of those who patronize supported living facilities is not restricted to only disabled people, but also older people and accident victims who are trying to recover and cannot do daily activities for themselves.

In essence, the demographic composition cum target market for a supported living facility is all encompassing; it is not restricted to any age group, gender, race, tribe or group of people.

  1. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

It is important to state that there are no clear-cut niche ideas when it comes to supported living business, but that does not mean that there are no areas of the business that one can specialize on. So, if you are looking towards specializing in an area in the supported living line of business, then you can choose to specialize in any of the following categories;

  • Sheltered & Extra Care Housing
  • Short-term Supported Housing
  • Long Term Housing

The Level of Competition in the Industry

No matter the line of business you decide to pitch your tent, you are still going to compete with others who are into same area of business. The level of competition in the Supported Living Facility industry to some extent depends largely on the location of the business, your niche area of operation and of course the capacity of your facility.

If you can successfully create a unique niche for your supported living facility business, you are likely going to experience little or no competition.

For instance, if you are the only supported living facility in your location that offers sheltered and extra care housing, you can successfully monopolize the market for a long time before you start having competition. It is important to also state that the competition in the supported home facility business is not restricted to the line of business but you will be competing against all players in the Home Care Providers industry.

  1. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

Here are the top 20 most popular Supported Living Facility in the United Kingdom;

  • Mencap Supported Living Services
  • Sequence Care Group, UK
  • Croner-i Supported Living and Extra Care
  • nidirect Supported Housing and Care Homes
  • Priory Adult Care Supported Living Services, UK
  • Age UK Assisted Living (extra-care housing)
  • Rethink Mental Illness – Supported Housing
  • Birmingham City Council – Supported Living
  • Haringey Council – Supported Living Services
  • Charity Choice – Supported Living Charities
  • Sanctuary Supported Living
  • Homeless Link  – Supported Housing Alliance
  • Haigos Health and Social Care Services
  • MK Care Services Limited
  • Mumby’s Homecare Support Limited
  • UK Care Team Ltd.
  • Independent People Homecare Services
  • Promedica24 UK Ltd.
  • CareTech Supported Living Services, UK
  • Abbey Investments Supported Living.

Economic Analysis

When starting a supported living facility business, you just have to get your costing cum economic analysis right if your intention of building the business is to generate profits, grow the business and perhaps expand the business and start competing at national level.

When conducting costing and economic analysis for your supported living facility business, you just have to critically examine these key factors; place, pricing, and promotion. As a matter of fact, you would have to continue to review these factors at regular intervals while running your supported living facility business. As a supported living facility business owner, you need to have a proper grasp of your competitive landscape if indeed you want to maximize profits and be in the frontline of the industry.

It is important to note that renting and medication cost is one of the most important factors contributing to the overall cost of a supported living facility business and should be considered as a major factor when carrying out your costing and economic analysis.

  1. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing how you intend starting a business. Basically, you should be guided by your overall business vision and mission statement. If you are looking towards starting a supported living facility business, you have to start from the very scratch because you can hardly get the franchise of supported living facility business to buy.

Besides starting a supported living facility business from the scratch is less stressful. You should just try as much as possible to secure a good residential facility and then leverage on every marketing tool within your disposal especially the internet when it comes to marketing your facility.

Please note that most of the big and successful supported living facilities around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success.

  1. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

If you decide to start your supported living facility today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well-established supported living facilities and other players in the Home Care Providers industry in your target market location. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.

Some other threats and challenges that you are likely going to face are; mature markets, bad economy (economy downturn), stiff competition, volatile costs, and rising medical care prices. You may also encounter unfavorable government policies, seasonal fluctuations, demographic/social factors, downturn in the economy, and of course emergence of new competitors within the same location. There is hardly anything you can do as regards these threats and challenges other than to be optimistic that things will continue to work for your good.

  1. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

In UK, you have the option of starting your business as a Sole trader, Limited company, Private limited company (LTD or Ltd), Public limited company (PLC), Limited liability partnership (LLP) or Guarantee Company (LBG). But people prefer limited Company (LTD).

As a matter of fact, if your intention is to grow the business and welcome clients (residents) from all across the United Kingdom, then you should choose Limited Company or even limited liability partnership (LLP). That is the most suitable legal entity that will cut it for you.

  1. Choose a Catchy Business Name 

Normally, when it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Typically, it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.

  1. Discuss With an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

In the United Kingdom and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policies that are required by the industry you want to operate from. Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business.

Here is some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own supported living facility in the United Kingdom;

  • General insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII)
  • Workers compensation
  • Building/Property insurance
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance
  • Employers Liability Insurance (ELI)
  1. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

A trademark is a legally registered symbol, word or words representing a business that legally owns it, protecting the business from anyone else using this name or symbol. If you are considering starting your own supported living facility business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark.

This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successful run it without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties. As a new business owner, it is important that you apply for trademark or patent for your business especially if you have a unique product or services or business idea or technology or business process. With that, you will legally own your brand and company name.

  1. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

If you intend starting a supported living facility in the United Kingdom, you are encouraged to pursue professional certifications; it will go a long way to show your commitment towards the business. Certification validates your competency and shows that you are highly skilled, committed to your career, and up-to-date in this competitive market.

Besides it is almost impossible to run a supported living facility business in the United Kingdom without the proper professional certification. In most countries of the world, carrying out any medical related practice without a license is illegal.

In most jurisdictions, individuals found to be providing medical, nursing or other professional service without the appropriate certification or license may face sanctions including even criminal charges leading to prison. These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run a supported living facility company;

  • Registered nurse and Licensed practical nurse Certificate
  • AADNS Certification
  • Caregiver Certification
  • Assisted Living Administrators License/Assisted Living Administrator Certification
  • Director of Nursing Services–Certified (DNS-CT)
  • QAPI Certified Professional (QCP)

Please note that you cannot successfully run a supported living facility without professional certification especially the basic certifications such as caregiver certification, private Registered Nurse (RN) and Licensed practical nurse.

  1. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United Kingdom without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catch up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own business in the United Kingdom;

  • PAYE
  • Business and liability insurance
  • Council Permit
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Business Plan
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Memorandum of Article
  • Insurance Policy
  • Online Terms of Use (if you have a website)
  • Online Privacy Policy Document (basically for online payment portal)
  • Company Bylaws
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
  1. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Starting a standard and well-equipped supported living facility is capital intensive especially even if you choose to launch the business on a small scale and you only have a few of employees on your payroll. Leasing of a standard facility that can accommodate your residents and staff members and of course the purchase of medical equipment are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital, in essence, if you choose to start the business on a small scale, you still need to source for fund to finance the business.

When it comes to financing a business, one of the first things and perhaps the major factors that you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.

Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your supported living facility business;

  • Raise money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raise money from investors and business partners
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Apply for loan from your bank
  • Pitch your business idea and apply for business grants and seed funding from government, donor organizations and angel investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and friends.
  1. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

Starting a supported living facility business comes with its own challenges; it is a business that cannot be started in any location. As a matter of fact, you will need approval from local council and other regulating authorities in the city you intend opening your supported living facility business.

Generally, in business, it cannot be overemphasized that the location you chose to start your business is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of people and businesses with the require purchasing power and lifestyle.

If you make the mistake of renting or leasing a facility for your supported living facility business in a not too visible or hidden location simply because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to spend more in promoting the business.

It is important to note that a business facility in good location does not come cheap hence you should be able to allocate enough fund for leasing / renting in your budget. If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location for your business, then you should feel free to talk to a business consultant or a realtor who has a full grasp of the city.

Most importantly, before choosing a location for your supported living facility business, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar business that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out.

This is why it is very important to gather as much facts and figures before choosing a location to set up your business. These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your supported living facility business;

  • The demography of the location
  • The demand for the services of supported living facilities and other homecare related businesses in the location
  • The purchasing power of the residents of the location
  • Accessibility of the location
  • The number of supported living facilities and homecare related services businesses that in the location
  • The local laws and regulations in the community/state
  • Traffic, parking and security et al
  1. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

When it comes to starting a standard supported living facility business, you will need stethoscopes, Blood Pressure Cuffs, oxygen tanks, and first aid kits and other related equipment that will aid you in carrying out your job. These equipment can be purchased as fairly used if you are operating on a low budget.

In setting up a small office for your supported living facility, you will also need computer, printer, home healthcare software, telephones, pager, photocopier, scanner, fax machine, first aid kit, gloves and uniform. When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing a facility for your supported living business, the size of the facility you want to own, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice.

Besides, you will need a facility that is in serene environment, a facility that is big enough to accommodate the number of residents and staff working for you. As regards the number of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you need to consider your finance before making the decision.

Averagely, when it comes to starting a standard private duty nursing business on a large scale, you would need the services of the following professionals; Chief Operating Officer (you can occupy this position), Marketing and Sales Executive (Business Developer), Accountant, Nurse Aide, Medication Management Counselors, Assisted Living Administrator (Human Resources and Admin Manager), Home Health Caregivers/Home Caregivers/County Aging Workers, Customer Services Executive/Front Desk Officer, Security Guards and Cleaners.

Over and above, you would need a minimum of 10 to 15 key staff to effectively run a medium scale but standard supported living facility.

The Service Delivery Process of a Supported Living Facility Business

The service delivery as it relates to supported living facility to a large extent depends on the organization and what they stand to achieve. Basically, Permanent Supportive (or Supported) Housing (PSH) combines rental or housing assistance with individualized, flexible and voluntary support services for people with high needs related to physical or mental health, developmental disabilities or substance use. Usually, PSH units are located in one home or building.

It is important to state that a supported living facility business may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above stated supported living facility business process is not cast on stone.

  1. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With Ideas & Strategies

The fact that the entry barrier for a starting a small – scale supported living facility business is low means that there is bound to be more players in the industry no matter the location you choose to start yours. In essence, you must come up with creativity and innovation if you must carve out a market for yourself within the available market in your community, city, state or country.

So, when you are drafting your marketing plans, make sure that you create a compelling company profile. Aside from your qualification and experience, it is important to clearly state what you have been able to achieve in time past. This will help boost your chances in the market place when marketing your park. Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your supported living facility company;

  • Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to households, elderly homes, hospitals, religious organizations, clubs/organizations for disabled people, the elderly who might suffer from severe joint pains, and every other age category that falls under the conditions listed by the physician in and around the location where your facility is located
  • Advertise your services in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business and products on yellow pages ads  (local directories)
  • Leverage on the internet to promote your supported living services company
  • Engage in direct marketing and sales
  • Encourage the use of Word of mouth marketing (referrals)
  • Leverage on the internet to promote your business
  • Join local chambers of commerce and industries around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your services; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
  • Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing for you.
  1. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services 

Assisted Living costs can vary greatly depending on the factors outlined in the section above. The more facilities that the home has the more the cost. The costs will typically range from £500 to £1,500 per week. One key factor that will help you offer your services at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name.

You can also try as much as possible to work with independent contractors and marketers; it will help you save cost of paying sales and marketing executives. So also, if you are able to secure business partnership as it relates to getting referrals, then you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits from your business.

  1. Develop an Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win

The Supported Living Facility industry is a competitive industry, and you must come up with a unique and highly creative strategy to be able to outsmart your competitors in the industry. Part of what you need to do in order to stay competitive in the industry is to continue to create easier and cheaper ways of taking care of your patients/clients and also make your facility highly secured and conducive.

In other to stay competitive in this industry, you must ensure that your residents are always comfortable and always ensure that you pay attention to details when carrying out your job. The truth is that if there are fluctuations in the services you provide, customers can choose to shift allegiance and settle for other options available.

  1. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your facility and service delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers.

One of the strategies that you would need to employ in order to generate repeated sales from your customers and also to retain them is to ensure that you always ensure that your facility is on point, you always come up with new and attractive concepts and your customer services does not fluctuate.

If your services and customer service fluctuate, you are likely going to struggle to get your customers retaining your services. Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and of course continue to generate repeated sales from them and also to attract new customers.

Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building a loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.

With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all, you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).

  1. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

If you are in business and you are not conscious about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them.

No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and create a corporate identity for your supported living facility;

  • Place adverts on both print (newspapers and entertainment magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community – based events
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your supported living facility
  • Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • List your supported living facility business in local directories / yellow pages
  • Advertise your supported living facility in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
  • Position our Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your supported living facility is located.
  • Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles are branded with your company logo.
Ajaero Tony Martins