Working in supported housing and hostels

The work of support workers in supported housing and hostels involves more than just providing a place to stay; it is about creating a nurturing environment where residents can rebuild their lives. This work is a cornerstone in helping residents regain stability, fostering a sense of community, and ultimately enabling them to move towards greater independence and wellbeing.

In a review conducted by the Department for Communities & Local Government in 2016, it was found that there were approximately 651,500 accommodation-based supported housing units in the UK. Over 70% of these supported housing units accommodate older people, whilst 29% accommodate working-age people with a diverse range of support needs.

Supported housing can be provided by councils, housing associations, charities or voluntary groups. These services meet the needs of a wide range of people, including older people, people with learning disabilities, ex-offenders, young care leavers, homeless people or those experiencing domestic abuse. Supported housing services serve as a vital bridge for individuals facing various challenges, providing them with stability, support and a sense of belonging. Working within these environments offers unique insights and experiences that shape not only the lives of the residents but also the workers who dedicate themselves to this cause.

The role of housing and hostel support workers

In supported housing and hostel units, support workers play a multifaceted role in ensuring the wellbeing and rehabilitation of the residents. Their responsibilities include:

  1. Advocacy: Support workers serve as advocates for the residents. They support them in getting access to this housing as well as making sure they have access to essential services and resources. This can involve liaising with external agencies such as the government, local councils, social services or housing associations, to address the needs and rights of the resident.
  2. Emotional support: Amidst the challenges that arise in supported housing, support workers provide a listening ear, offer encouragement and encourage community among the residents. Cultivating a harmonious environment not only nurtures healthy peer relationships but also strengthens the bond between support workers and residents.
  3. Safeguarding and risk management: When working with vulnerable people, it is important that these individuals feel safe and are protected. Housing support workers are proactive in placing preventative measures against abuse and harm in these units. They are also responsible for conducting thorough assessments to monitor resident behaviour and needs, identifying and intercepting potential threats to create a secure living environment.
  4. Life skills and independency training: Empowering individuals to enhance their independence is at the heart of support work. This can be done through workshops and one-on-one sessions focused on building life skills such as job preparation, cooking and cleaning, budgeting and interpersonal skills.
  5. Administrative tasks: Support workers are also tasked with handling administrative responsibilities, including drafting tenancy agreements and managing legal documentation, contributing to the efficient operation of supported housing units.

The significance of the role

Being a support worker is not just a job, you are impacting the lives of the people you assist. In this clip, our consultant Rocky shares the significant impact we have on the lives of our care users:

Supported housing and hostel working conditions

The working conditions of supported housing and hostel workers can vary, influenced by factors such as work culture, funding and employee levels. Key aspects include:

  1. Shift work: Many workers operate on rotating shifts, including nights, weekends and holidays, to ensure that there are staff on the clock at all times.
  2. Training and support: Ongoing training and supervision are crucial for workers to effectively navigate complex situations and adequately support the residents.
  3. Physical environment: The physical layout of facilities, including security measures and communal spaces, impacts workers’ ability to provide a safe and supportive environment.
  4. Job satisfaction: Despite the challenges, job satisfaction often stems from the meaningful connections formed with residents and the tangible impact of their work on individuals’ lives. However, it is important to maintain work boundaries in order to keep satisfied.

The skills and experience needed

Previous experience in a similar role, working with vulnerable adults, is beneficial to the role as a support worker. This can be gained through work placements, apprenticeships or traineeships. Experience from your personal life can also help you to build up the skills you need for the role. Here are some common skills that employers look for:

  • Understanding the importance of data protection issues
  • Knowledge of adult safeguarding procedures
  • Ability to work with vulnerable people
  • Being empathetic
  • Having good communication skills
  • Working in stressful environments
  • Having computer literacy
  • Being aware of health and safety issues
  • Ability to keep calm in a crisis
  • Ability to work on your own initiative
  • An understanding of homelessness and housing issues
  • Being a team player.

If you are looking for a more experienced role, you might need a qualification or a degree in a relevant subject such as community development or social policy.


Supported housing and hostel support workers work on the frontline of our communities. Their dedication, compassion and tireless advocacy empowers individuals to navigate life’s challenges, rehabilitate and thrive.

Brook Street Social Care has been a trusted recruitment partner to the social care sector for 30 years. As specialists in adult care, education, housing, services for children and specialist social care recruitment, we know how to connect the right person to the right job.

We currently have vacancies spread across the country, offering fulfilling and flexible work – from care assistants and social workers to home managers and service development managers.

If you’re ready to make a difference – whether you’re taking your first step to launching a career in care, or if you’re an experienced carer looking to take a step up – get in touch with your local Brook Street Social Care representative today or browse our jobs.