It became clear early on in the process, however, that Sir Stephen and his committee were genuinely keen to engage with the views of people with learning disabilities and to take those views seriously. People with learning disabilities have helped the committee to come up with some of the clearest and most radical proposals since Winterbourne.
They are clear that they expect to be involved in decisions and to be employed in peer support, advocacy, inspection and planning roles. They are calling for closures, not just improvement of a broken and outdated model of care. We support this view and the Shared Lives community can demonstrate that people with learning disabilities who are considered ‘challenging’ by some services, can often live safely and well in ordinary family homes, at a fraction of the cost of low-outcome institutional care.
Shared Lives will not be for everyone, but it is one of several tried and trusted community-based support models which everyone should be offered.
Shared Lives Plus provides support for people with learning disabilities, mental health issues, dementia and other age related conditions, as well as a wide variety of other support needs. Shared Lives carers welcome vulnerable people into their homes to live with them as part of the family, it is an alternative form of care to living in institutionalised care homes. There are 150 Shared Lives schemes across the Uk, which means 8,000 Shared Lives carers with12,000 people supported in Shared Lives arrangements.
An average Shared Lives arrangement saves local authorities and councils £26,000 per person per year. If all areas increased their performance to the level of the best, Shared Lives could treble in size and provide national savings of over £150m per year. In a recent CGC report, Shared Lives outperformed all other areas of care including residential in relation to compliance.