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Shared Lives and Health

Shared Lives and Health

Family Carers

As Shared Lives grows and diversifies into working with people with many different needs and conditions, we have become more aware of the support that using Shared Lives brings to family and unpaid carers. Using shared Lives, particularly for day support, short breaks and respite can enable family and unpaid carers to feel more involved and confident in the care being received. Through the matching process, the people using Shared Lives and the people closest to them have the opportunity to choose who, where and how the care is provided.

We know that family and unpaid carers do a fantastic job looking after the person in their lives who needs care and support. We also know that family and unpaid carers are expert on the needs and wishes of the person being cared for and as such their comments and concerns need to be listened to and taken account of. Shared Lives offers an approach that puts the person using the service at the center of the care offered, but also makes room for the important people in their lives.

We also recognise that family and unpaid carers are people in their own right with their own physical, social and emotional needs. Shared Lives offers time off from caring to give carers a chance to recharge their batteries or attend to self-care. Because the person using the service will only go to the home of a Shared Lives carer that they have been matched with and have had time to get to know, carers can have confidence that there is a sound relationship and that the person they care for is somewhere they want to be and with people they like spending time with.

For more information about our work, contact Sue Eley, Development Officer Older Adults email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Short Breaks - Respite

Whilst Shared Lives is often used as a long term support, it is increasingly being made available as a short breaks (sometimes known as respite) option to complement other arrangements. In Short Breaks Shared Lives arrangements a person will stay with a Shared Lives carer from one night to several weeks. Short breaks are usually accessed by people using long term Shared Lives arrangements, to have a break from staying with their main Shared Lives carer. They are also being increasingly used by family carers, as an alternative to traditional respite.  

Shared Lives can also be used as day support, where a person receives support from a Shared Lives carer during the day. Part of the support will be provided at the Shared Lives carer’s home and then the person will be supported to access activities of interest in the local community.



Independent Shared Lives carer support groups

Shared Lives Plus believes that independent Shared Lives carer support groups in each scheme can be invaluable in resolving issues and improving services.

Talking to a scheme worker or manager on some issues such as respite or payment can be intimidating for some people, because those relationships tend to place more power with the scheme worker.

In a support group people can speak collectively through elected representatives or spokespeople. In this way individuals can draw attention to particular issues without feeling vulnerable or exposed.

Being part of an independent Share Lives carer support group can help Shared Lives carers feel less alone and more understood. Support can come in the form of conversation and sharing experiences and resources or by simply listening to others.
Support groups enable people to work together to solve their own problems.

Young people in transition

The Shared Lives transitions offer enables younger people to use Shared Lives before they become eligible for adult social care at 18 years old. As well as supporting Shared Lives schemes with information and advice, the Transitions Development Officer works to influence children’s services commissioners to consider using Shared Lives as an alternative for short breaks, respite planning and day opportunities for young people from 15 to 18 years old.

We are working to get the message about opportunities in transitions out to schemes and to expand the work nationally, raising awareness in national children’s fora and working with partners to provide more choice for young people.

You can see a briefing about Shared Lives and Young People in Transition here

Older People

Shared Lives Plus are working with Shared Lives schemes to develop more services aimed at people in later life, including those living with dementia and other life limiting conditions. Shared Lives is increasingly offering services, especially day support and short breaks, to older people who need some extra help to enable them to remain living independently in their homes and communities.

Some schemes are developing specialist dementia services, with Shared Lives carers being trained to support the person living with dementia and their family and carers, which will allow them to live better lives for as long as possible in their family home. We are also looking at how Shared Lives can offer care to older people leaving hospital and needing a temporary place to stay while they recover before resuming their normal lives in their own homes.

We are continuing to develop a number of resources for schemes who want to expand into providing support for older people, including business cases, some brief guides on specific areas of work such as intermediate care and reablement, developing a dementia friendly environments in Shared Lives carers’ homes and other aspects of working with older people - you can find more by following the link to our guides and business cases. We are also developing further training and guidance resources.

For more information about our work with older people and people living with dementia, contact Sue Eley, Development Officer Older Adults email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


  • 1 Business case for Shared Lives working with older people
  • 2 Business case for Shared Lives working with Intermediate Care and Reablement
  • 3 Working with Older People

HOLIDAY STORIES – Share your holiday experiences here!


August 2015

Geoffrey visits Suffolk!

In August 2015 Geoffrey from the Ealing Shared Lives scheme went on Holiday to Suffolk to stay with Sally and Brian. The fortnight was packed full of activities.
Geoffrey’s visit took in Thorpness, ships at Felixstowe, Ipswich Museum, and Framlington Castle. Ice Creams were shared, walks taken and there was even a trip to see the BBC Concert Orchestra!

Geoffrey experienced the camper van lifestyle – along with the family dogs, ate fish and chips and drank tea in the open air, and overall a fantastic time was had by all.
Catherine from Ealing Shared Lives scheme tell us that “Geoffrey had a lovely time with Sally and Brian. His carer said he keeps talking about his stay in Suffolk”

You can read the full story and look at the holiday snaps in this document here. Geoffreys_holiday.pdf


June 2015 

Joe Waring is a holiday carer in Norfolk, who with his family support up to nine different individuals each year, mostly from the London borough of Wandsworth. Most people come several times a year and sometimes with a friend.
Joe wrote about two people who come for holidays.

June, who is 52 years old, comes to stay 6 or 7 times a year, having first come about 6 years ago. She sometimes comes on her own, and sometimes with a friend. She is very close to her mother and brother, and I think she likes being part of another family: myself, my wife and our 18 year old daughter. June’s mother is also reassured that the care for June focuses on her individual needs. June is very sociable and has a great sense of humour. She loves meeting our friends either at our house or theirs, and having a laugh, sharing stories and food and, I’m afraid, sharing a glass of wine, too! We go out every day to somewhere of interest in Norfolk, either in Norwich, where we live, in the nearby Norfolk Broads countryside, or to the coast. June particularly likes seeing the horse she recently “adopted” in a local horse sanctuary, and going to the amusements at Great Yarmouth. June always brings enough money to buy presents from Norfolk for her family and friends back in London.

Jack has also been coming to us for about 6 years. He always brings a pool cue and enjoys going to the local ten-pin bowling alley to bowl and play pool. He has been beating me at both for all of those 6 years, and I’m getting a bit tired waiting for his luck to run out! Jack especially likes our dog, Daisy, and volunteers to join us walking her every day. Like June, who he sometimes comes with, Jack is very sociable and always wants to meet our friends and family. He will sometimes help prepare a meal for a dinner party, and likes to dress up for the occasion in his best clothes. Jack likes going to museums- there are some great ones in Norfolk- and has recently gone a couple of times to the local cathedral to light a candle in memory of his father. Before he first did this, Jack had never gone into a church since his father’s funeral 10 years previously. Although Jack usually stays with a friend, he always comes on his own a few weeks before Christmas, when he buys presents for all his family, and wraps and tags them all carefully before taking them home.

Thanks Joe for sharing the stories and offering wonderful holiday experiences