What is Shared Lives?
Shared Lives support vulnerable people to live as independently as possible in the community. The support is provided by carers also living in the community.
The Shared Lives scheme is different from the traditional personal assistant. Shared Lives carers become part of the service users 'extended family' and share their home, social networks and 'personal' time. Shared Lives carers can be individuals, couples or whole families.
What does a Shared Lives carer do?
It depends very much on the person you are providing support for. You might:
- help someone to learn basic living skills such as cooking or managing money
- offer them a home while providing support
- take them out socialising with you so they get used to being involved in the community
- act as an 'extended family' and be there to offer support for things they find difficult
- in some cases you may deliver personal care.
Shared Lives is not just a support service, it is sharing your life with an individual - your family life, your social networks and your time.
Who can become a Shared Lives carer?
As Shared Lives supports such a wide range of people the carers need to be just as mixed. Carers can be of any age, gender, background, ethnicity, disability or sexuality.
Above all carers must be commited to the values of Shared Lives - Respect, Promoting independence, Social inclusion, Safeguarding.
There is an assessment process which will involve you being asked questions about your family life and someone coming to check that your home is suitable. Your friends and family may also be interviewed.
What else do I need to know?
Matching carers to service users
Before you start caring for anyone there will be a careful matching process which looks at the needs of the service user and what you are able to offer. You will get plenty of opportunity to meet each other and check that this is going to work for both of you.
What space do I need at home?
If you have someone living in your home you need to have a suitable spare bedroom just for their use. You will also need other space in your home and time to share your life.
If you don’t have a spare room you may still be able to offer day time support in your home or provide outreach support. This might include inviting them for a meal, being the person at the end of the phone who cares how their day has been, offering some practical support to help them live more independently.
You are paid depending on the support you offer, the level of need the person you are supporting has and the other services that person may receive. For example if you had someone who did not need support in the day or who went to a day service, you would be paid less than if you were caring for someone who needed you to be around constantly.
Every Shared Lives carer is entitled to a minimum of four weeks paid holiday a year from their caring responsibilities. If you are supporting someone with higher needs you may get more breaks. If you choose to have additional breaks you can have unpaid leave.
Support to be a carer
A Shared Lives team will support you and make sure you are giving a good quality service. You will have a named worker as a contact as will the person you are supporting.
Before you start you will be given general training about being a shared lives carer and, if neccessary, specific training on the needs of the person you are going to support.
What happens if it does not work out?
There are regular reviews to make sure everone is still happy with the arrangement. Very occasionally things do not work out and in these cases we will find alternative support for the service user.
How do I become a Shared Lives carer?
Contact us to find out more about Shared Lives and tell us about what you can offer.