What are Almshouses?

‘Almshouses have been part of this country's life for many generations and they continue to play a crucial role today in providing accommodation for those in need throughout the United Kingdom. They also make a significant contribution to our national heritage in maintaining many fine, ancient buildings.’
 
HRH The Prince of Wales, Patron of the National Almshouse Association
 
From the website of the National Almshouse Association:
 
Almshouses today:
 
'While many of us may be aware of the many ancient and fine almshouse buildings dotted all over the country, few perhaps realise how vibrant and progressive the almshouse movement is today. '
 
'Upgrading listed buildings is complex and expensive, requiring planning and conservation consent. Striking the right balance between offering the highest standards while preserving the historic fabric demands patience and close liaison with the authorities.'
 
'Of greatest importance is to ensure that residents have dignity, freedom and independence to live their lives as they see fit within a safe and secure environment. Almshouses are considered homes for life, with care packages being provided by social services if and when residents need additional help. Whilst there are over 400 wardens or scheme managers employed by almshouse charities, and a number of larger charities offer extra care and even residential care, the general position is that almshouse residents should be capable of independent living.'