“Becoming a Shared Lives carer has changed my life for the better and could change yours” – that is the message from a Nottinghamshire woman who looks after adults with learning disabilities in her home this Shared Lives Week.
Jane Wragg, 56, and her husband Paul from Gamston, have been Shared Lives carers for Nottinghamshire County Council for three years and are one of 62 Shared Lives households in the county.
As part of the scheme, residents can share their home and family with older people, or people with a disability or a mental health need for long-term support or a short break. Carers are paid depending on the needs of the person or people they care for.
Jane looks after Valerie, 54 from Gedling, for a weekend every fortnight along with a 22-year-old man full time. Both adults have a learning disability.
She initially offered short breaks as she worked full time as a health and safety advisor but decided to become a full-time Shared Lives carer eighteen months ago.
Jane said: “Valerie and I have a real laugh and we are a bit of a comedy act. She was very quiet when I first met her but she has really come out of her shell, which is a joy to see.
“I’ve taken her to see her first panto and we had a break away to Ingoldmells recently, which was her first holiday. It is so rewarding to see her progressing before my eyes, like her moving on from basic jig-saws to complex 500 piece sets.
“I’m a people person and I like to give something back. I dipped my toe into the water when I first offered short breaks and decided this was the path I wanted to take full-time, so I suggest to people interested in becoming a Shared Lives carer to give short breaks a try first.
“Unlike my previous life getting up at the crack of dawn to go to work and coming home to cook the dinner feeling tired, I’m no longer in a rush and being a carer is flexible. The people who you care for fit around your own life, so Valerie gets involved if we have friends around.
“The great thing about the scheme is you can give people one-to-one support which they wouldn’t get in other settings.”
Valerie said: “I like walking the dogs, doing jigsaws and going to the gym.”
Councillor Stuart Wallace, Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Adult Social Care and Public Health Committee, said: “This is a wonderful scheme that helps people to gain greater independence and become part of the community through their time with a Shared Live carer where they enjoy a real-life home environment.
“We work closely with Shared Lives carers and the people needing support to get a good match and potential carers need a bit of spare time, a spare room if they are looking to offer overnight stays and a caring nature.
“For many people, this can be an alternative occupation and all carers receive training and ongoing support.”