Shared Lives Plus CE0, Alex Fox describes ten features of an ‘asset-based area’ necessary for developing strong communities and sustainable public services. This will be of interest to council, clinical commissioning group commissioners and wider public professionals.
This new Think Local, Act Personal resource started as a blog post. Thanks to the TLAP team and its Building Community Capacity network, along with inspiration from local areas such as Wigan it has now become a how-to guide giving ten pointers towards becoming an Asset-Based Area.
In an age of austerity, increasing attention is paid to what councils and the NHS cannot do, making it vital to gain some clarity on what the organisations and people of each area can do. Every area and its citizens can achieve more when they combine their expertise, time, creativity and resources. Decades of practice and research shows that this happens when:
• Everyone shares an asset-based mindset: looking first for what individuals, families and communities can, or could do, with the right support, rather than focusing exclusively on needs and problems.
• Services and organisations are co-produced with the people whose lives they touch. This means that everyone involved identifies priorities, co-designs services and systems, and works together wherever possible to co-deliver the work that takes place.
Every area already has at least some organisations, professionals and local people who take those approaches, but for them to have a wider and deeper impact, whole systems and areas need to be aligned around an asset-based approach.
Many asset-based practitioners argue that people can lead that change only when acting as local citizens, not when acting in professional or service leadership roles. An asset-based public body does not have ‘customers’ (whose only responsibility is to pay taxes), rather it views everyone, including people with long term support needs, as citizens, with rights and responsibilities. Rather than ‘providers’, asset-based areas have partners, who share responsibility for system design and the best use of resources. An asset-based area is responsive to need, but always looks for capability and potential. It is confident in the things it can do, and the difference its people’s skills and expertise make, but it has the humility to recognise its limitations, namely to fix people or communities.
There are a wide range of asset-based models upon which to draw. Effective and sustainable models tend to:
• Draw on an evidence base and identified model that can be co-produced with local people, for example refer to NICE Guidance.9
• Build local capacity and expertise, rather than relying on outside support.
Most approaches start by mapping an area’s assets. Approaches to this include asset mapping and appreciative enquiry. The NHS Integrated Personalised Commissioning programme10 has published a relevant guide. Where possible, asset maps should be ‘open source’, with a wide range of local people able to update and use them. Co-production approaches include those outlined by Think Local Act Personal11 and Coalition for Collaborative Care.12 Support models which draw (to varying degrees) on asset-based thinking include:
• Asset-based approaches to community development e.g. ABCD; 13 Asset-based consulting.14
• Approaches that support people to become active contributing citizens, and to find non service solutions whatever their life experience or impairment e.g. Local Area Coordination.15
• Community enterprise development e.g. Community Catalysts.16
• Circles of support e.g. Community Circles;17 Circles Network.18
• Shared Lives: Local Shared Lives organisations. 19
• Homeshare: Local Homeshare organisations can be found here.20
• Time-banking: Time Banks.21
• Time credits e.g. Spice.22
• Dementia-friendly communities.23
• Co-produced social prescribing approaches.
• Wellbeing teams24
• Leadership for Empowered and Healthy Communities programme25 which supports leaders to grow and nurture capacity in communities to improve health and wellbeing
This is not an exhaustive list. Ultimately, all services can be offered in ways which aim to help people:
• To build and maintain family and social connections and relationships.
• To build their confidence, knowledge and resilience.
There are a number of ongoing debates around asset-based approaches. Definitions of ‘community’ range from being place-based to seeing communities of interest as more important. Communities and community development work can struggle to be inclusive of all groups, particularly minority groups and communities, and people with stigmatised health conditions.
Some asset-based thinking is very sceptical of the ability of organisations, particularly large organisations, to behave in a genuinely assetbased way and there are concerns that the language could be selectively appropriated to justify funding reductions for traditional services. Asset-based approaches require a significant investment of time and resources and whilst they may result in reduced demand for state services, they cannot be introduced successfully with that aim. Whilst it is vital that decision makers buy-in to asset-based thinking, ultimately it will be the buy-in and leadership of local people upon which success depends.
Maggie who uses Shared Lives services recently asked her Shared Lives carer to write in to us and share her story. We hope you enjoy reading Maggie's story and looking at her pictures. This story is a great example of the positive impact Shared Lives can have on people's lives who have support needs and are looking to become a part of and living in a family enviroment instead of traditional forms of care.
“Hello, my name is Maggie and I have been living in Shared Lives for two years. I have really enjoyed my time being in a family and have made lots of new friends. I have also loved learning new skills, and trying out new things. This is the first time I have rode a horse and it was absolutely brilliant. I now go to eazyfit and the Odell centre, I also go to discos to see my friends. What I do love about Droitwich, is the band in the park in the summer. I have learnt how to cook with the help of my Shared Lives carers, Jackie and Kevin, and I enjoy preparing meals. Another bonus to living in Shared Lives is that I have been enjoying trips out and holidays. I have been to Lanzarote and this year we went to Portugal. Other places I have visited have been Blackpool, Coronation Street, BGT, Ironbridge, SS Great Britain to name a few. It is brilliant to live as part of a family and share our lives.”
Today, Shared Lives carers met Rebecca Evans, the Minister for Social Services and Public Health to launch the annual Shared Lives Cymru State of the Nation Report 2017.
In Shared Lives, an older person can get support in a Shared Lives carer’s home, while they recover from ill-health, or after hospital treatment, or for a short-break when a family carer needs support.
This year’s report calls on social and health care commissioners to look at how they can offer Shared Lives support to older people, and those with dementia, because all too often older people are missing out on this valuable alternative to residential care.
Shared Lives carers are trained and regulated. They are matched with the older person, who needs care, so they can form a real relationship based on shared interests and experience. Having a home from home in their own community often helps an older person recover their confidence and regain independence. Once they have formed a friendship their Shared Lives carer will be there to help them cope with any health crisis in the future.
Shared Lives Chief Executive, Alex Fox, said: “Commissioners need to think more imaginatively about the services they offer, if we are to transform care in the way Welsh Government has set out in the Social Services and Well-being Act.
Shared Lives support helps older people, who often suffer more because they are isolated and alone, form a real relationship that can support them to manage even chronic health problems.”
The minister has given Shared Lives tremendous support in their campaign to bring Shared Lives services to older people and those living with dementia. She said: “Leading an independent and fulfilled life is very important to an individual’s health and well-being. Shared Lives enable some of the most vulnerable people in our society to stay in their communities and benefit from a supportive family home environment.
“We supported Shared Lives Cymru new initiative through the Intermediate Care Fund to extend their valuable support to older people, including those with dementia. By offering respite care in a home environment, older people will be able to be discharged from hospital more quickly and be supported as they regain their independence, or even avoid hospital admission altogether."
The Welsh Government awarded a further £242,460 under the Sustainable Social Services Third Sector grant from 2016-2019 to support this work to enable older people needing support to stay with a trained and regulated Shared Lives family, close to their own home and in their community.
“I would like to thank Shared Lives for the great work they do and especially the carers who open up their homes to make a positive difference to vulnerable people’s lives every day.”
Traditionally Shared Lives services have been used by adults with learning disabilities to support them to live full lives in the heart of their communities. Although not well-known Shared Lives schemes offer services across Wales.
You can read the full Shared Lives Cymru State of the Nation Report 2017 here.
Our latest guest blog is from another one of our Ambassadors, Michael. In the past Michael was a part of a Shared Lives arrangement, he now lives independently. Michael’s blog is about his journey to living independently with help and support from Shared Lives along the way.
“In September 2011 I moved from fostering to Shared Lives, I lived with a Shared Lives carer 24/7 until 17th May 2012.
It was good because it helped me learn how to become independent. On the 17th May 2012, I moved from my Shared Lives arrangement into supported living, but I continued to use Shared Lives for day support
One Shared Lives carer that supported me was called Sharon. She supported me a few times a week to help me get out and about. We went to the Coronation street tour 3 times, Disney on Ice, shopping and the cinema. We had fun and many lovely times, Sharon even helped me with household tasks, like buying things for my home and supported me until October 2015. Shared Lives carer, Sharon was the best worker I've had since my mentor in 2007/08. I still miss her but everything I’ve done and learned with Sharon will stay with me.
I’ve had a few other Shared Lives carers in that time that didn’t always work out- but when I moved on 22 April 2015, I met Syvania. She supported me for 9 and a half hours and Sharon was also supporting me for 8 hours, Select Support Partnership were with me for 9 hours a week. I have many lovely memories with Syvania, she helped me to stop drinking fizzy pop and drink healthy fruit juice instead, and I only have fizzy pop when I’m having a mocktail or cocktail now.
My Shared Lives carers have been like a mum to me, they have patience to teach me new skills, they’ve helped to teach me to cook and clean up.
People who don’t know about Shared Lives could learn from Shared Lives carers, they help to improve people’s life skills, go out on trips and holidays, and get you involved with community groups.
Shared Lives carers have helped me out with emotional support, given me someone to talk to, be healthier and I’ve been supported well. Everything I’ve learned with Shared Lives will help me in the future.
Shared Lives has helped me to be more organised, which means I worry less, everything is in order which means I’m less anxious now. I know how to do shopping lists, Shared Lives carers told me to check what I’ve got in before I go shopping, so I don’t buy the same stuff. I look out for offers and shop in the healthy isle. They’ve taught and showed me how to manage my money. “
Michael lives independently now and gets support from another agency but is still a part of the Shared Lives family as one of our Ambassadors.
For further information about becoming a Shared Lives carer, a member or using Shared Lives services, phone the office on 01512273499.
This “Scaling up Shared Lives in Health” blog will focus on Bolton, where the Bolton CCG, in conjunction with GMW and Bolton Council, have been successful in receiving NHS England funding to develop Shared Lives in the area.
The new funding will enable the Shared Lives scheme, which is run by Bolton Cares (Bolton Council’s local authority trading company), to offer more arrangements for vulnerable adults to stay with trained Shared Lives carers in family homes, as an alternative to being admitted to hospital or before they return to their own home after a hospital stay.
Shared Lives is already a popular option for older people in Bolton, but this funding will mean the scheme can expand, to offer more support to people with mental health needs and offer an alternative option for people following a stay in hospital, before they return home to their own homes.
Some people have had to move outside of Bolton to receive the support they need in specialist mental health settings, but this programme will work to bring people back into Bolton, but within the support of a family home to ensure they remain safe and well within their communities.
Bolton have run a well-established Shared Lives scheme for over 30 years, and on 31st July 2016, Bolton Care and Support Ltd began trading as Bolton Cares, to continue providing a range of care and support for adults in the community, of which the Shared Lives scheme is one of the options.
The project will provide employment for 1 new co-ordinator at Bolton Cares in the first year, as well as self-employment opportunities for many more Shared Lives carers. The closing date for the co-ordinator post is 28th February, for details please see: http://www.boltoncares.org.uk/work-with-us/
Chief Executive of Bolton Cares, John Livesey, said: “Shared Lives a wonderful service that really works for the benefit of both service users and carers. The people who use our service become part of a loving family and our carers are experienced in what they do and get so much fulfilment from helping others.
“Since forming Bolton Cares as a not-for-profit company, this is the first major funding boost for us and shows commitment from our partners to developing and improving local adult social care services. We’re delighted with the outcome and looking forward to recruiting more carers and meeting new service users.”
Dr Wirin Bhatiani, Chair of NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Over the past few months NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group has been working in partnership with Shared Lives, Bolton Council and Greater Manchester Mental Health Services (GMMHS) on a bid to access match funding for a three year project with Shared Lives Plus and NHS England.
“I am delighted that Bolton has been awarded this funding as one of only five CCG areas across England and Wales. The bid concentrated on improving access to Shared Lives and as a result more positive outcomes for people with mental health needs and/or learning disabilities.”
Karen Wolstenholme, Registered Manager of Shared Lives in Bolton is “delighted with the success of being able to grow and expand services in this area and looks forward to successful “matching” which will enable people to live to their lives to their full potential in the community of their choice.”
Today #TimetoTalk is trending on Twitter and people are being encouraged to talk about their mental health.
Many people with different mental health illnesses use Shared Lives services, and whilst our care model will not be suitable for everyone experiencing mental ill health, it is a great option for many.
In the spirit of #TimetoTalk we wanted to publish a story from someone who uses Shared Lives services and lives with mental ill health.
Caroline had been in the Navy- she was being severely bullied whilst training to be a medic. She was initially thrown out of the navy but got involved with combat stress. They got the navy to take full responsibility of what had happened.
Caroline was subsequently diagnosed with severe depression, OCD and post traumatic stress.
Initially Caroline had been allocated to a support worker and they had put her into a supported living set up. She had some hour’s support each week but this was predominantly to help with paperwork. She said: “I wasn’t well, I was basically put into the house and left. I ended up taking a massive overdose and then ended up being sectioned.
I had never heard of shared lives and my social work ended up introducing me to Linda and Owen, I don’t remember much from this time but I remember coming round for tea visits before moving in. This was April 2013. “
Behind the scenes the Shared Lives team had looked at Caroline’s paperwork and assessed that Linda and Owen would be a good match for Caroline. They felt that Linda had the listening skills that would be needed to support her through this period of her life.
Linda: “Caroline tried to describe her OCD- she gets stressed over it, I stroke the light switches, its better to laugh about it if I can, I check the doors all the time, Linda tells me to leave it and she will check it, this really helps, otherwise I would sit by the door all night.”
Caroline said those first few weeks were amazing- the family were so welcoming; it was amazing to be part of the family. Caroline went on to describe how her life has changed: “I settled in really quickly, I didn’t feel like I was treading on eggshells, there was no pressure. I felt I could approach the carer and they would be non- judgemental.”
“In that time I feel my confidence has changed- I’ve got a strength I’ve never had, I’ve had lots of encouragement, I’ve talked for hours with the carers, and there is no such word as can’t. I do a lot of laughing. I’ve slowly come off some of my medication too in the time I’ve been here which is great. I’ve even managed to have contact again with my family. I see my mum again now who I couldn’t before as she couldn’t deal with me being ill. We do family holidays now too which is amazing.
Now, I work 26 hours a month and have completed my NVQ 2. I run now too, and things like Christmas are amazing- we get so many gifts, I never expect it. We all eat dinner together it’s important as I can chat, considering it’s their house it’s amazing, they are always there for me.
At the very start of my journey I didn’t want to be in the world- but since coming into this placement it’s been great. I’ve not had a dip since I’ve been here and I’ve learnt to listen to my body.
I would tell other people when talking about Shared Lives- there is hope, no matter how unhopeful you feel. I’ve never looked back it’s been brilliant.”
Shared Lives supports and encourages people with mental health illnesses to talk about them and seek help. #TimetoTalk is a great opportunity to break the stigma around talking about mental health. At Shared Lives we share the stories of people who use our services and respect their wishes, the person’s name in this story has been changed in this story at their request.
Christmas can be a hard time for many people, for various reasons. It may be financial troubles, missing loved ones or loneliness, whatever the reasons, Christmas is not always enjoyable for people.
That’s why this year we wanted to really highlight what Shared Lives carers and our care model does for people who use our services. People who have mental ill health, learning disabilities, dementia and long-term illnesses often come to Shared Lives from traditional, institutionalised care and are looking for a more independent life. Shared Lives allows them to become involved in their local community, through the help of their Shared Lives carer- they begin to create and build on goals they want to achieve, whilst living in a Shared Lives arrangement.
One Shared Lives carer highlighted this heart-warming Christmas memory with us:
“Our favourite memory is of someone who has since passed away, he was 72 when he came to stay with us. On the first Christmas Eve we heard his bedroom door clicking, on investigation, we found he kept peeping out of his room to see if Father Christmas had come yet, because he wanted to shake his hand - it brought a tear to our eyes."
Shared Lives carers from Guideposts, Natalie and Darren:
“Darren always smiles his way through the year. He celebrated his 18th birthday at Centre Parks and enjoyed his first pint! We have been camping in Dartmouth, and skiing in Samoens, France at Christmas .We are going again this year and Darren has been learning to ski throughout the year.”
Throughout Christmas many Shared Lives schemes throw events and raise awareness and one scheme highlighted their favourite Christmas party from two years ago.
Bettertogether ( formerly Shared Lives Scheme Newham) had a memorable wonderful Christmas get together party and got a grant of £500 (five hundred!!!) from Shared Lives Plus.
Anne Kasibante, from Bettertogether: "I still salivate when I think of the food..People danced and we had time to spread christmas cheer."
One thing we love to do at Christmas with Shared Lives is to really try and spend time together and build our relationships with schemes, Shared Lives carers and Ambassadors.
Jenni Kirkham, NHS Programme Officer and our Ambassador, Michael shared their favourite Christmas moment with us- it was the day they first met each other.
They wrote this together: “These photos are from last Christmas- it was brilliant because it was the first time we had all met each other and started a lovely friendship between all of us. We all met up
again for Michael’s birthday early in the year, and went to watch The Jungle Book at the cinema. Michael baked flapjacks for us to eat in the film- much better Jenni and Michael 2than popcorn! We’re all looking forward to another Christmas together again this year, because we will get to spend a day together and see each other again. Jenni is especially looking forward to eating the Christmas cake that Michael made with her mum Judith earlier this year!”
For many Shared Lives carers Christmas is as special for them, as the people they share their life, home and family with.
Lisa Gunn, 47, from Gateshead Shared Lives scheme, looks after a 93 year old lady. She believes that despite their age difference they have developed a fabulous friendship in the last 18 months.
She said: “The special times Grace and I share together are the simplest. We sit next to each other on the sofa having heart to hearts, daily moans and groans, laughs and tears along the way, as good friends sharing quality time together so often do. She is an absolute pleasure to be with.”
Heather Cooke, from one of our partner organisations PSS, sent us these lovely pictures from first PSS TRIO Christmas Party.
This was the first PSS TRIO Christmas Party John and Eva have attended since John was diagnosed with Dementia. They both really enjoyed themselves and felt fully supported.
They had light entertainment from a local Drama School and a Christmas sing along which was enjoyed by all.
We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who sent in all their greatest Christmas memories and moments, over the years. It really is a great way for everyone to see the value of Shared Lives, and how much of a difference our care model makes to peoples lives, not just at Christmas but all year round.
You can see more pictures and Christmas memories by following our Twitter account: @SharedLivesPlus. and you can also join in by using #SharedLivesFestiveFun to publish all your Christmas pictures and moments with Shared Lives!