Hello everyone and welcome to our latest blog on our work with NHS England. You may have recently seen Fiona Clark’s guest blog on the NHS England website, if not you can read it here.
Shared Lives Plus have had a hectic few weeks with the NHS programme, Fiona and Jenni are still travelling around the country on their journey to visit Shared Lives schemes and CCGs who are applying for match funding to develop Shared Lives for health in their area. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks for both, but they have been ‘privileged’ to meet so many dedicated people along the way.
Last week Fiona and Jenni took park in a Shared Lives Plus seminar on Intermediate Care, giving presentations and leading workshops.
There were nearly 70 delegates from across England and Wales and they were a mix of people such as health commissioners, hospital staff, social care workers and Shared Lives.
Jenni Kirkham, NHS Programme Officer says: “It was great to be with so many people who are keen to work with us to develop a Shared Lives model for Intermediate Care and the next year is going to be exciting to watch Shared Lives schemes recruiting carers who are ready to support people at their homes following a stay in hospital. “
The areas who are applying for match funding for the NHS England programme have until the end of September to get their final applications in to us. Shared Lives Plus and NHS England will be making the decision as to which areas will receive match funding in the first week of October and we hope to make the public announcement in mid-October, in Shared Lives week. Check out our Twitter account (@SharedLivesPlus) for updates on all NHS related information and announcements on Shared Lives Plus week, including the annual Parliamentary Reception on 19 October 2016.
With Jenni and Fiona travelling the country at the moment, working with and visiting schemes and CCGs, now is the perfect time for everyone to get to know the faces behind the great work that Shared Lives Plus is doing with NHS England.
This week we will be learning all about Jenni Kirkham, our NHS Programme Officer, who as all our staff will tell you is very enthusiastic about not only her own work with the NHS but developing and spreading awareness of Shared Lives as a whole.
I sat down with Jenni earlier in the week for a chat about her career so far and her work with developing Shared Lives with the NHS.
Jenni, Can you tell me about your career so far and how it has lead to you working on the NHS programme for Shared Lives Plus?
“My career to date has been varied, but has the common denominator is that it has always involved working with people. In my early days I got a job at the local authority housing team, working in customer service and managing the housing allocations process with people. From there I moved into social services and trained as a community occupational therapist assistant, which meant I did assessments and then fitted equipment in people’s homes that meant they were able to live well at home.
I have worked as a deputy manager of a hostel for homeless families too. The idea of “home” seems to be quite central to my career; I spent the next 8 years as Care Manager of various Home Instead Senior Care companies in Merseyside. I have now worked for Shared Lives Plus for 18 months, the first 12 months I worked in Support and Quality, supporting Shared Lives schemes with guidance and queries. In 2014 I also spent a year out in Australia! I prepared to spend a year travelling from place to place, but I actually found a place I felt I could call home and settled there for 9 of the 12 months- once again reinforcing to me how important it is to have a place you can call home. “
Jenni, everyone at Shared Lives Plus admires your enthusiasm and you clearly enjoy your role, what is it you love about your work with the NHS?
“I love that I am able to work towards raising the profile of Shared Lives within health, where for many people Shared Lives is an entirely new concept. I find that working with the staff and carers at Shared Lives schemes is inspirational and I enjoy working with them to develop and grow their schemes, to enable more people to have the choice of living in a home with family around them.
Each time people hear of the ways in which a person has blossomed when being supported within a Shared Lives arrangement, it raises the expectations of what people can achieve and how people with long-term health conditions can live well in their community- no one should be limited to where or how they live, just because of a lack of options in their area forces them into inappropriate residential or institutional accommodation.”
You can read one of the amazing Shared Lives arrangements Jenni is referring to in the here
Lastly Jenni, probably the most important question, what impact do you think the relationship between Shared Lives and the NHS will have on hospitals and the people in Shared Lives arrangements?
“I hope that NHS staff consider that Shared Lives is another alternative for people coming out of hospital- people could stay with a Shared Lives carer for a period of time whilst they either recover or receive support to manage a long term health condition.
We know that when people have the right support around them in their community, such as Shared Lives or family support along with community health professionals, people thrive. Shared Lives can prevent inpatient readmissions and Shared Lives carers have even identified health conditions, through their personal relationships with people, which have not been picked up before.
NHS England have a Transforming Care agenda, and Shared Lives fits so well into that. Too many people have to stay in often inappropriate Assessment and Treatment Units (ATUs) for too long. Shared Lives is an option for people who need to leave ATU’s and need long term live-in support in a home environment. Shared Lives can support families who want their sons/daughters/relatives to come home and live with them; Shared Lives could support the families by providing short break options, enabling people to live and be cared for in homes, in their own communities.”
We hope you have enjoyed getting to know our very own Jenni Kirkham, our next blog will focus on Fiona Clark, her work and career that has led to her becoming our Shared Lives Plus NHS Programme Director.