Today, Shared Lives carers from Dudley, Leicester, Manchester, Hereford and Liverpool met with Liz Kendall MP, Shadow Health and Social Care Minister to talk about the amazing work they do at home, and their experiences during lockdown.
Shared Lives carers open their homes and family life to support people with mental ill-health, dementia, learning disabilities and people discharged from hospital. It’s a personal way of caring for each other, in an ordinary local home, but also a formal social care service, aiming to build kinder, stronger communities.
The care sector has been under incredible pressure during Covid-19, but Shared Lives care has proven adaptable and resilient, despite household routines being disrupted. Many have been getting to know each other and their local communities better, baking, helping neighbours out, and creating positivity with a whole range of ideas, from painting stones with positive messages to making gyms in their gardens or new flooring to continue tap dancing.
Liz Kendall MP, Shadow Minister for Health and Social Care said, “One of the positive things that this virus has made us realise is our friends and families and the people we love, and hug. When we talk about social care, we forget that most care is done by families, which is what Shared Lives to all intents and purposes, is. Hundreds of people in other care settings could lead to brilliant, exciting, warm, loving lives, in people’s homes. We need to shift the focus of people living well at home, with the right mix of informal and formal support from people we know and love.”
“Talking to everyone in Shared Lives today has been the most uplifting conversation I’ve had during this crisis, thank you for everything you do. We will bring about the changes we need to put care higher up the agenda, so more people can benefit from Shared Lives.”
Liz Kendall heard how Sarah who had just moved in with their Shared Lives carers before the pandemic from a residential home, Caroline Reid, with her husband Gary, who are Shared Lives carers with Camphilll Village Trust said, “The difference of how Sarah was to how she is now, you wouldn’t believe she’s the same person. She stands up straighter, her walking around has got better, and we’ve discovered she can sing even though her speech isn’t very clear! We’ve been saying to each other, what would have happened to her if she’d have stayed in the care home?”
Virtual’ parties are taking place across the UK as part of Shared Lives week, organised by Shared Lives Plus, the UK charity, which is celebrating the work carried out by over 10,000 Shared Lives carers. With Covid-19 restrictions in place, households joined together online to share cups of tea and award prizes for the best home-baked treats.
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.
During lockdown, people supported by Shared Lives carers have not been able to do their usual voluntary or support activities during the day, and so carers have been taking on additional responsibilities, with none of their usual breaks to help them keep going.
Alex Fox, Shared Lives Plus CEO, says, “Shared Lives carers offer any of us who need support, a safe and fun way of life with others who are part of the community, in an ordinary household. We are very proud that Shared Lives carers help people to do stuff many people take for granted – making friends, learning new skills, or recovering after a hospital stay can help people grow in confidence to continue happier, healthier lives.
I’m incredibly proud of local Shared Lives schemes who have adapted and grown their offer to support more people in tough times, building strength and kindness in every community.”
How does Shared Lives work?
- Referrals are made to a local Shared Lives scheme.
- They will work with all parties to carry out a rigorous and person-centred matching process
- Carer and patient meet to build up a relationship and establish trust, tailored to individual needs.
- The arrangement begins as a trial period, with a view to establishing a longer-term arrangement if required.