24/07/2012 - Permalink

Could you be a Shared Lives carer?

Related topics: Community / Health

Anyone who has considered becoming a carer or returning to a caring role is urged to find out more about Shropshire Council’s Shared Lives scheme. 

Shared Lives – formerly known as the Adult Placement Service – is home-based care for vulnerable adults.  Families or individuals welcome a person or people into their home, providing guidance, support and help as required.  This involves sharing their home on a long-term or short-term basis, depending on the support required.  The person becomes part of the household, having the opportunity to share in everyday family life. 

The service supports more than 100 adults with learning disabilities; mental health problems; physical disabilities; older people; and people recovering after hospital treatment. 

However, the council is working to help more people benefit from Shared Lives, and people are encouraged to step forward to apply to be Shared Lives carers.  In particular, the team is developing day support opportunities, so is on the look out for carers who can support up to three people at a time to enjoy activities such as walking, cooking, gardening and shopping, using their own home as a base.  The team will endeavour to match service users’ skills and interests to those of the carer. 

In a recent report, the scheme was given the highest rating possible by inspectors who praised the way it offers “good support” which has “improved the quality of people’s lives”. 

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission found carers to be well supported and trained, and to benefit from good information and communication.  The report said: “Carers felt well supported to provide people with a happy family environment where people were encouraged and supported to live the lives they chose with the support that they required.” 

Shared Lives carers are from all walks of life and can be single people, couples or families with children. 

While previous experience of supporting people in any field is desirable, it is not essential, as new carers will be given the support and training necessary to carry out the role.  The most important qualities and characteristics that a Shared Lives carer should have is a patient, positive and friendly approach; a safe and welcoming home with at least one spare bedroom; be able to offer a stable supportive environment; and have the motivation and commitment to develop a long term caring relationship. 

Shared Lives carers are self employed, with payment varying depending on the number of people supported, their individual needs and how much time the carer can offer to the service.  The amount is agreed before the start of any placement.  There are special tax rules for some Shared Lives carers, and an amount of what they earn is exempt from tax. 

Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member responsible for disability, said:

“We need a diverse range of individuals and families to meet the diverse needs of the people who use our service.

“Shared Lives carers play an invaluable role and can help overcome many of the barriers that can hinder or prevent people from pursuing a more independent life.  This could include breaking out of isolation by enabling individuals to develop independence and confidence through learning new skills, managing daily tasks, participating within their community, sharing family life and experiencing life in a different household.

“I would strongly urge anyone interested to get in contact and find out more.”

Ann Hartley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for adult social care, said:

“The recent Government social care white paper highlights Shared Lives nationally as a key part of achieving more community-based care and support as an alternative to traditional services.

“In Shropshire people have told us to offer a wide range of personal support that enables them to remain independent and active members of their communities – and Shared Lives carers are helping us to do this.

“Inspectors found that people supported by the scheme were ‘very happy’ and led ‘full and active lives’, and we want more people to be able to benefit.”

To find out more about Shared Lives in Shropshire call 01743 254099, email sharedlives@shropshire.gov.uk or click here.