Common Queries and Questions
What is Shared Lives?
In Shared Lives, an adult (16+) who needs support and/or accommodation becomes a regular visitor to, or moves in with, a registered Shared Lives carer. Together, they share family and community life.
In many cases the individual becomes a settled part of a supportive family, although Shared Lives is also used as day support, as breaks for unpaid family carers, as home from hospital care and as a stepping stone for someone to get their own place. Uniquely, Shared Lives carers and those they care for are matched for compatibility and then develop real relationships, with the carer acting as ‘extended family’, so that someone can live at the heart of their community in a supportive family setting. Our members build small-scale solutions around individuals and families so that people can:
take control of their services and of their lives
pursue ordinary lives within their chosen families and relationships
contribute to and be valued by their communities
Shared Lives is a regulated service in which a family includes an individual in their family and community life. In many cases a disabled or older person becomes a permanent part of a supportive family.
Shared Lives carers are carefully selected and trained by a regulated Shared Lives scheme. They are paid a fixed amount, rather than an hourly rate. Some receive up to four weeks paid breaks per year, whilst the person living with them receives respite care.
Shared Lives aims to enable people to experience ordinary life, with real relationships, rather than to provide a service. Shared Lives is not an “off the peg” service – it is highly personalised, relying on achieving a match between the individual requiring support and the Shared Lives carer who wishes to support them.
Shared Lives has traditionally been a service for adults with learning disabilities, often matching individuals with families where they will live for the long term or with whom they have regular visits, such as every weekend, in order to give family carers a break.
Shared Lives is increasingly being used for people with a range of disabilities or illnesses and for older people. Many Shared Lives schemes now also apply the principles of Shared Lives to providing day support for adults with a range of challenges. Some foster carers who have been providing long term support to a disabled child transfer to a Shared Lives scheme in order to continue to include that individual in their family life.
Regulation Shared Lives Scheme are regulated under:
a) the Health and Social Care Act 2008 [in England];
b) the Adult Placement Scheme (Wales) Regulations 2004;
c) the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001, superseded April 2011 by the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 (Schedule 12);
d) the Adult Placement Agencies Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2007.
The official Shared Lives Plus definition of Shared Lives is as follows: Shared Lives is a service provided by individuals and families (SL Carers) in local communities and is distinguished by the following features:
Arrangements are part of organised Shared Lives Schemes that approve and train the Shared Lives Carers, receive referrals, match the needs of service users with Shared Lives Carers, and monitor the arrangements. People using Shared Lives services have the opportunity to be part of the Shared Lives Carer’s family and social networks. Shared Lives Carers use their family home as a resource. Arrangements provide committed and consistent relationships.
The relationship between the Shared Lives Carer and the person placed with them is of mutual benefit. Shared Lives Carers can support up to three people at any one time (up to two people in Wales). Shared Lives Carers do not employ staff to provide care to the people placed with them. Joint Statement The joint statement from Shared Lives Plus and regulators CQC 2010, gives this description: “Shared Lives care offers people an alternative and highly flexible form of accommodation and/or care or support inside or outside the Shared lives carer’s home. Shared Lives arrangements are set up and supported by Shared Lives schemes and the care and accommodation people receive is provided by ordinary individuals, couples or families in the local community. This alternative enables individuals taking up a Shared Lives opportunity and the Shared Lives carer/s to enjoy shared activities and life experiences. Shared Lives enables a wide range of vulnerable people to live independent lives, have their health and well-being promoted and can reduce the need for admission to hospital or residential care (for example through ‘Home from Hospital ‘ services). Shared Lives schemes can also support disabled or ill parents to continue to look after their children and also young people (ie 16+) in transition to adulthood. The opportunities that Shared Lives has to offer are greatly valued by both people using the service and by family carers and commissioners.” Shared lives care may include: Long term accommodation and support or Short breaks Daytime support.
Rehabilitative or intermediate support.
Kinship support where the carer acts as ‘extended family’ to someone living in their own home and where both the homes of the people using the service and the Shared Lives carers are available for contact. Where Shared Lives carers are providing personal care in people’s own homes, there is a distinction between this and domiciliary or supported living care. Domiciliary carers follow a rota to visit and support a number of people with specific care tasks to be performed. Similarly, supported living carers may provide varying degrees of support but only in or from the person’s own accommodation. The relationship with the person using the domiciliary or supported living care service will be entirely ‘professional’ and will not involve any of the carer's family or their home. A Shared Lives carer supporting a person in the community will do this in the context of a matched relationship as part of a Shared Lives agreement. They will carry out their support in much the same way that a natural family member may provide that support. Where care is being provided but there is no link back to the Shared Lives carer’s home and family, the Scheme should consider whether the personal care is provided by a domiciliary care service or a supported living arrangement, rather than Shared Lives. In these instances, when monitoring their compliance with the Essential standards, services should check the additional prompts in the Guidance about compliance: Essential standards of quality and safety for DCC (domiciliary care) or SLS (supported living). It should be noted that the regulatory requirements for Shared Lives, Domiciliary Care and Supported Living are very similar and all fall within the regulated activity of Personal Care and in the service type ‘Community Social Care’. Where schemes are providing more than one type of service this should not therefore add significantly to their regulatory burden.