4.1 Vision: Our lives get better when they are shared.
Staying connected and being kind to one another are fundamental to our social well-being. Kindness, respect and care for one another are essential to the success of shared living matches. It supports creating relations and provide care and companionship.
It reinforces kindness, inclusion and participation in the community, transforming lives of all people, not only the carers and people in need.
Shared Lives is a regulated model of social care schemes, where a young person or an adult who needs support goes to live with, or is visited regularly by, an approved Shared Lives carer. It is highly flexible, and is built upon the relationship between the people involved. Shared Lives carers are paid an allowance, and the relationship is supervised by a local Shared Lives scheme.
Shared Lives Plus are a charity that supports the network of Shared Lives carers and schemes across the UK. They support members and develop a Shared Living approach based upon the belief that lives are better when they are shared.
There are many variations of Shared Living. At one end of the spectrum there is Homeshare. This is scheme where an older person opens his/her home for companionship and some practical help, and gives a younger person a place to have a good start in life, in return for 10 hours of practical help and companionship from the young person. At the other end of the spectrum, there are Shared Lives carers who provide care and support to people with profound and multiple disabilities. Somewhere in between there is a KeyShare scheme that focus on accommodation for women who don’t have care and support needs, but who would benefit from living in an ordinary household with people who understand and have empathy for their needs.
Carers do not need any prerequisite qualifications and are recruited through a thorough assessment process that can take 3-6 months. They are supported by a local scheme and paid a fee of be-tween £350 and £450 per week, or else paid for a block of time for each person they support — usu-ally four hours in a day. Shared Lives carers are self-employed, and benefit from a tax-free allowance. Once carers are recruited, a personalised, two-way matching process is carried out by one of over 150 local Shared Lives schemes and, once both parties are completely happy, the person moves into the carer’s home. Shared Lives arrangements can last from a few weeks to many years. Many Shared Lives relationships last for decades.
Shared Lives carers are supported by their local regulated Shared Lives scheme, who review the arrangements and provide scheme workers who can help to set things up. And if they choose to join Shared Lives as a member, carers are supported with advice, guidance, support, and training.
Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to supporting people, Shared Lives, Key Share and Homeshare are built on the foundation of careful, conscious matching processes, where people come to live together because they’ve chosen one an-other and share interests.
4.3. Target population
The Shared Lives model offers support to different vulnerable groups in risk of exclusion from society, such as people experiencing mental health issues, older people, people with intermediate or long-term health needs, young people in transition, care leavers, people with learning disabilities, and victims of modern slavery and domestic abuse. Shared Lives is a unique caring arrangement enabling more than 14,000 people with a learning or physical disability, mental ill-health, dementia, or other ongoing needs, to share their carer’s home and family life. It helps them to rebuild and make new relationships, pursue personal interests in the community, and reduce social isolation.
Shared Lives excels in complex or challenging situ-ations, where there are a mixture of medical and non-medical needs. It can also support people with an ambition to leave Assessment and Treat-ment Units, and can facilitate ‘reablement’. It can delay or even prevent people from needing to go to the hospital at all.
People can live with a Shared Lives carer long-term, visit for a short break, or receive day support. They benefit from a flexible and personalised approach, and receive their healthcare and support with a family and community they know and have chosen.
In specific cases, such a supporting survivors of domestic abuse and modern slavery, Shared Lives has teamed up with national charity SafeLives and specialist support charity Stay Safe East to ensure that survivors staying in Shared Lives access the best support, at the right time, in a way which works for them. It is part of a wider partnership project with charities working with survivors, including Crisis, Hestia, Bawso, and Belfast Women’s Aid.