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Hannah Cain

Hannah Cain

Position:  Shared Lives Area Co-ordinator.
Salary:      £21,000 - £26,000 - depending on experience.
Location: Stourbridge, Dudley MBC and surrounding areas.
For our exciting new initiative, we are looking for someone who is passionate about Shared Lives and displays real insight into the benefits it can bring to people who wish to live within a community setting. You will be involved in the continued development of an ever growing scheme, where you will have opportunity to influence its working practices. You should have a sound understanding of the Shared Lives model and knowledge of the local area and its amenities. If you are hard-working, ambitious and want to be part of an innovative new scheme, then this is the post for you.
The Camphill Village Trust (CVT) is an established, well respected and progressive UK charity supporting adults with learning disabilities, mental ill health and other support needs in their home life, work, social and cultural activities, throughout nine urban and rural communities in England. The Camphill philosophy recognises the uniqueness of the individual and we seek to respect, value and enhance the strengths and potential of each person we support in a contemporary context.
Our communities are well resourced and offer a rich mix of social, cultural and enterprise/work/activities opportunities for the people they support and those who work there.  Our vision, is for each CVT community to be at the centre of a network of Shared Lives arrangements, creating social capital within the wider community and local neighbourhoods.
This approach will not only enable CVT to deliver a broader range of housing and support options, but also provide the Shared Lives Carers and the people they care for, with opportunities to join in the social life of each community. This will create the potential for new relationships and connections so as to strengthen a sense of support and belonging.
This is a challenging but rewarding new role and to succeed you will require a thorough understanding of Shared Lives and its potential.  Therefore, we will expect you to be creative, dedicated and have an explicit value base. We expect you to have excellent IT and organisational skills to support you in this dynamic post.  You must also be able to develop effective working relationships with care managers and practitioners, be able to recruit, assess, train and supervise carers, as well as having the intuition and practical skills for managing a case load on a day to day basis.
This is a new position, so there is some flexibility around your working routine, however, your base will be at our offices in Dudley Borough, alongside the potential for working from home.
To find out more about this exciting new role, please take the opportunity to speak with Dean Barnshaw on 07984 896010 before applying on-line at: www.cvt.org.uk 
Closing date for applications: 12 Noon Wednesday 4th October 2017
Interviews to be held in Stourbridge, Dudley on Wednesday 18th October 2017

Job Description
Job Role:  Area Co-ordinator Shared Lives Scheme (West Midlands) 
Salary Scale:   £21,000 - £26,000 per annum + car allowance
Location:   Stourbridge (also opportunity to work from home on occasion)
Accountable to:  Shared Lives Registered Manager
Job Objectives
1. To support the Registered Manager in the delivery of a high quality Shared Lives Scheme for the Camphill Village Trust across the Borough of Dudley and surrounding Black Country/West Midlands area.
2. To hold an allocated caseload and have day-to-day responsibility for the supervision and monitoring of the respective Shared Lives Carers and the people we support in each arrangement.
3. To maintain the compliance of the Shared Lives Scheme with all Care Quality Commission (CQC) Fundamental Standards for Regulation and Inspection.
4. To work in accordance with the required Shared Lives Plus Guidance Notes and CVT Policies and Procedures.
5. To ensure the scheme meets all Local Safeguarding Adults Board requirements.
6. To contribute to the marketing, recruiting, assessing, inducting and training of all new Shared Lives Carers.
7. To undertake regular Shared Lives Carer supporting and monitoring visits so as to maintain each Arrangement.
8. To develop and maintain positive working relationships with health and social care practitioners/care managers/commissioners at an operational level.
9. To work where relevant in partnership with existing Shared Lives Schemes within the Region.
10. To work collaboratively with other CVT staff members to find ways in which the regional Shared Lives Scheme can contribute to the local community for mutual benefit.
11. To promote and positively represent the CVT Shared Lives Scheme within the Trust, the region and nationally.
12. To provide an Out-Of-Hours support service to all Shared Lives Carers within the scheme.
Main duties and responsibilities
1. Manage the operational responsibilities of the Regional CVT Shared Lives Scheme
1.1 Work with the Registered Manager and Development Manager to establish a new Shared Lives Scheme in the region that is recognised for delivering high quality support to its stakeholders.
1.2 Ensure that the Scheme infrastructure of policies, procedures, systems and processes are maintained and aligned with CVT policies and procedures, meeting the sector’s best practice standards at all times.
1.3 Work with the Registered Manager to recruit, select, assess, induct, provide ongoing training and regularly supervise Shared Lives Carers.
1.4 To support the Registered Manager in maintaining all regulated activities and develop excellent relationships with the Care Quality Commission to ensure Outstanding/Good inspection reports.
1.5 To undertake regular training and supervision/appraisal to ensure best practice standards and thus promotes the effective delivery of Shared Lives Arrangements.
1.6 Work with the Registered Manager to maximise the marketing potential in local communities for the effective recruitment of Carers.
1.7 To develop and maintain positive working partnerships with relevant agencies, organisations and teams essential to the health and growth of the CVT Shared Lives Scheme.
1.8 Maintain an up-to-date knowledge of legislative and national/regional policy developments that impact upon the Shared Lives Scheme.
1.9 With support from the Registered Manager, develop, agree and implement care/risk management plans that will ensure the safety and well-being of all those involved in the Shared Lives Scheme.
1.10 To ensure the completion of all necessary reviews, assessment reports, documentation, file records and any other paperwork required by the role.
1.11 To undertake Shared Lived Carer Pre-Approval and Re-Approval Assessments prior to being submitted to the Independent Panel.
1.12 To provide Out-Of-Hours support to all CVT Shared Lives Carers and immediately report any serious concerns to the Registered Manager and CQC if necessary.
1.13 To oversee the organising and attendance of regular Carer Forums and social events for the Shared Lives Scheme.
2. Develop and maintain positive relationships with practitioners/commissioners
2.1 Work with the Registered Manager to identify and engage with local commissioners in the region.
2.2 Ensure excellent understanding among commissioning teams of the CVT Shared Lives Scheme and its potential through regular meetings.
2.3 Develop and maintain excellent links with front-line Practitioners and Care Managers to promote the Shared Lives Scheme and ensure a clear referral pathway.
2.4 In discussion with the Registered Manager and in liaison with Referring Agency, oversee the matching between the Person receiving the service and the Shared Lives Carers.
2.5 Where relevant to work in partnership with existing Shared Lives Schemes within the Region.
3. Work collaboratively with the Registered Manager to identify opportunities to connect Shared Lives Arrangements with the CVT community for mutual benefit
3.1 Maintain excellent links with the wider CVT staff team through regular briefings on the development of the Shared Lives scheme.
3.2 With other Shared Lives colleagues, work with the wider CVT staff team to identify opportunities, to enable local Shared Lives families to link with and contribute to the life of the local community.
3.3 With the Registered Manager and the Development Manager, develop and design an approach that will bring together the resources of the local CVT community and that of the Shared Lives family, to offer a Shared Lives Extra service to people with more complex needs.
3.4 Promote and oversee the delivery of the Shared Lives Extra service, constantly reviewing to ensure that it meets the needs of all parties and delivers excellent outcomes.
4. Promote and positively represent the CVT Shared Lives Scheme within CVT, regionally and nationally
4.1 Raise awareness of the value of the Shared Lives model with a range of regional and local stakeholders, working with the CVT communications team. Ensure early success stories are widely circulated.
4.2. Write articles for the trade press, the CVT website and regional media.
4.3 Deliver presentations at relevant events to raise awareness and promote the Shared Lives model.
4.4 Represent CVT at national and regional events.
5. Contribute to the effective administration of the Camphill Village Trust
5.1 To record all information correctly and in accordance with data protection protocols.
5.2 In support of the Registered Manager, contribute to budgeting and financial planning of the scheme.
5.3 To monitor the finances of the people we support in each arrangement, using existing procedures.
5.4 Ensure that the Shared Lives Carers are paid regularly and correctly, as in accordance with the payments bandings, housing benefit and board & lodging.
5.5 To ensure that all contact sheets, data bases and spreadsheets etc are kept up to date and accurate.
6. Working Practice
6.1 Engage in continuous self-development and training, working towards NVQ Level 3 in Health & Social Care as a minimum.
6.2 Work in a way which promotes diversity, equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice.
6.3 Operate at all times in a way that is consistent with CVT’s legal responsibilities including health and safety legislation and guidance.
6.4 Work in accordance with CVT’s aims and objectives and policies and procedures and promote a positive image of the organisation at all time.
7. Any other duties
Undertake such other duties as may reasonably be required, commensurate with the level of the post and the needs of the organisation.
Person specification:
Criteria  How identified
Qualification ⦁ Working towards QCF Level 3 in Health and Social Care or equivalent  AF
⦁ Support and monitoring of carers and people who use services.
⦁ Successful day-to-day management of a case load.
⦁ Reliable team member of a successful community development/voluntary sector service.
⦁ Contributing thoughts and ideas to the continued development of a community service.
⦁ Facilitating training/workshops for carers and contributing to development of its content.
⦁ An ability to work as part of a close-knit team and in partnership/liaising with other professionals. AF, I, R
⦁ An understanding of Shared Lives and the philosophy underpinning the work and the sector.
⦁ Understanding of quality assurance and safeguarding practice in social care.
⦁ Knowledge and understanding of relevant government policies and legislation.
⦁ An understanding of the ways in which support can be funded, commissioned and delivered, including self-directed support and personalised approaches.
⦁ An understanding of how to apply for housing and welfare benefits in support of the people that access Shared Lives.
⦁ Knowledge of the challenges and opportunities facing the statutory and voluntary sectors. AF, I, P
Skills ⦁ Able to engage confidently and constructively with other professionals, carers and people living in and working in Shared Lives schemes.
⦁ Excellent presentation, communication and report writing/assessment skills.
⦁ Effective organisation and time management skills.
⦁ Able to work flexibly and creatively using own initiative.
⦁ Competent IT skills and an ability to update data bases and maintain online files.
⦁ An ability to develop robust links and partnerships across organisations and sectors. AF, I , R
⦁ Commitment to empowering people who use services and their families, promoting their rights and services which are user-led, personalised and self-directed.
⦁ Demonstrable commitment to working in ways which promote equality of opportunity.
⦁ Values the principles of co-production and partnership working.
⦁ Commitment to continuous professional development.
⦁ A willingness to positively contribute to all aspects of the service, ‘think outside of the box’ with a ‘can do’ approach. AF, I, R
 ⦁ Ability to work the hours dictated by the needs and demands of the job (including evenings and weekends).
⦁ Able to travel as and when required by the job. AF, I
Key:       AF:     Application Form             I:    Interview             R:    References      P: Presentation
Employment terms:
⦁ The appointment is subject to a six-month review period, which may be subject to extension. To successfully complete your review period, you will be expected to complete your common induction standards within a three-month period. To successfully complete your review period, you will be expected to complete your common induction standards within a three-month period and the relevant QCF qualification (if applicable) within an agreed period.  You will also be expected to be able to evidence you are able to apply your learning, training and skills to support people in a way that embodies the 10 facilitation skills that support Great Interactions with people we support, through person centred thinking and planning, using people’s preferred method of communication and are focussed on providing outcomes for people we support that promotes increased choice and control.
⦁ Hours: 37.5 hours per week Monday to Friday. 
⦁ People’s Pension is our pension provider.  We make a contribution at the statutory rates if you have been auto-enrolled. We also have an enhanced scheme, where if you increase your contributions to 10% of gross pay then we continue 6%.
⦁ Holiday entitlement is 6.6 weeks =33days or 247.50 hours (inclusive of public holidays).
⦁ Sick pay entitlement is 4 weeks after one month, increasing to 8 weeks after 3 years, 12 weeks after 5 years.
⦁ Notice – four weeks.
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 10:14

The Asset-Based Area

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.

You can read Alex Fox's blog on the Asset- Based Area paper for the Department of Health and Social Care here.


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.

Lincolnshire County Council are re-procuring their Shared Lives services and are holding a Market engagement day on the 7th September 2017 and would like to invite existing and new Providers who are interested in delivering Shared Lives services within Lincolnshire. Please find attached the market engagement questionnaire to feed into the Specification of the future Shared Lives services in Lincolnshire. If you wish to engage with us on this please fill in the attached questionnaire and submit by the 14th September 2017.
Please find attached an Agenda for a face to face Market Engagement day on the 7th September 2017. If you haven't already expressed an interest can you please respond via the portal   https://procontract.due-north.com/Login  with your intention to attend this day.
Welsh Assembly Shadow Social Service Spokesperson, Suzy Davies, found out first-hand this week about the fantastic support Shared Lives is providing in her constituency. Suzy, who is AM for South West Wales, met 72-year-old Vernon in the Swansea home he’s shared with Shared Lives carer Margaret Millson for 16 years.
Vernon, who will soon be celebrating his 73rd birthday, lives an active life in the community with support from Margaret and her partner Eddie. He works in his local supermarket for a few hours a week, and gets out and about regularly thanks to his free bus pass. Vernon was taken into care aged just two and was looked after by Nuns in Swansea until the late 1990s, when he moved to a residential home. The move didn’t suit him at all and he didn’t thrive there, so Swansea social services suggested Shared Lives. Vernon hasn’t looked back!
Over coffee and biscuits he told Ms Davies, an active campaigner for stronger communities, all about Shared Lives and what the service meant to him. But they discovered they shared another passion – a love of the city of Swansea. Ms Davies grew up there and it wasn’t long before the two were happily sharing reminiscences and talking about all the changes they’ve seen over the years!
The visit was a real eye-opener for Ms Davies, and she was able to see first-hand how Shared Lives helps people live active, fulfilling lives in the heart of their communities. She also got an insight into what makes a Shared Lives carer.

Margaret along with her partner Eddie have been Shared Lives carers for around 18 years now, supporting Vernon since 2001.  Margaret had worked as an Auxiliary Nurse before moving to Swansea and becoming a Shared Lives carer.  Along with Vernon, she’s also provided long-term support and short-breaks to other people who need just a little help to stay independent and active.
The visit was organised as part of Wales Shared Lives Development Team’s work connecting Shared Lives carers and the people they support to local politicians. The aim is to make sure politicians see first-hand the great work Shared Lives is doing in their constituency.
Monday, 03 July 2017 14:19

Maggie's story

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.”


Maggie 5 


Nottinghamshire residents of a caring nature are being encouraged to consider becoming Shared Lives carers to offer long-term support or short breaks to vulnerable adults. 
The County Council currently has 58 Shared Lives carer households, which offer long-term accommodation and support or short breaks for older people, people with a physical or learning disability, or individuals with mental health needs. 
A further 20 households across the county who have availability in their home and are willing to offer support are needed, so more people can benefit from the scheme. 
All carers receive training and ongoing support and are paid according to the needs of the person or people who they care for. 
Terri-Ann Davies, 27, spends 28 days a year spread out as short breaks with Jean Bere who lives on a farm in Everton, Bassetlaw. 
Terri-Ann, who lives in Mansfield with her parents, is partially deaf and has a learning disability and Jean has been a Shared Lives carer for three years. 
Father Gary explains “Shared Lives is a godsend. Terri-Ann stays over at a proper working farm so experiences different things to when she is at home with us and loves all of the animals there. 
It’s an unwinding, relaxing break for her and gives us time to do things we aren’t able to do when Terri-Ann is around. We are going away to play French boules in Jersey during our next break.” 
Terri-Ann said: “I have been to many different places with Shared Lives but meeting Jean and her family is the best I’ve done. We do things like feed the animals and collect the eggs from the chickens in the woods and when I stay for a longer period of time, we do other things. The only downside of the farm is getting up so early because I like my bed!
When I’m away from home I know Mum and Dad get worried but it is reassuring for them to know I’m safe and happy.” 
Jean said: “We moved to the farm four years ago and being closer to nature is very therapeutic so I wanted to share this with other people. 
I have an agricultural degree and have previously worked with people with autism in a care home, so Shared Lives seemed the perfect challenge for me and the farm. 
I get just as much out of it as Terri-Ann, as it is so rewarding to see her grow in confidence and she has a great sense of humour and a lively character. She helps out on the farm, but we also do other fun activities like swimming and baking cakes. 
As Terri-Ann is in a different environment I think she is more willing to try new things, develop her skills and she is a real joy to be around."
I have enjoyed looking after two other young people as part of the scheme and I’m looking forward to having another person to stay at the farm in the coming months.” 
Helen Hall, Senior Shared Lives Coordinator at the Council, said: “Jean does a fantastic job supporting Terri-Ann but you don’t have to have a farm to be a Shared Lives carer. 
You just need room in your home and sometime to support a person with a disability or an older person and the arrangements can range from a couple of weekends a year to offering a longer-term home.” 
Nottinghamshire 1
Anyone who is interested in becoming a Shared Lives carer can visit www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/sharedlives, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 0300 500 80 80. 

Emma and Tommy O’Connor receive MBE for 50 years of caring.

“It was a shock, you do what you do for the love of it. The Doctor’s at our local Silkworth health centre put us forward for the MBE. The Doctor’s held a big party for me and Tommy, it was a lovely surprise. All our family were there- and the children we had brought up over the years in fostering. We gave the Doctor’s a photograph of us with the queen, it’s up in the health centre, Tommy and I getting our MBE’s.”
Emma and Tommy O’Connor, from Silkworth in Sunderland, who have been married for 57 years have been recently honoured with a MBE for over 50 years of caring.
The couple who became Foster carers in 1968, eight years after getting married, were among the list of nominees being honoured by the Queen. Emma and Tommy have been honoured for over 50 years of care, as Foster Carers and their current role as Shared Lives carers.
Emma and Tommy have looked after two ladies from when they were three and five months old. They became Shared Lives carers so they could continue to support Silvia and Margret into adult life.
Emma said: “It was lovely, the queen presented it, and she spoke to me for ages, she was so down to earth. The Queen asked us how long you think you’ll be caring for? Tommy said how long is a piece of string? The Queen burst out laughing.”
Unfortunately, one of the ladies they supported passed away, Silvia died at 36, she had severe difficulties, Emma and Tommy had fostered her from three months old. They became Shared Lives carers when Shared Lives first started so they could keep Silvia in the family.
We wanted to know why Emma chose Shared Lives, she said: “Because I had the ladies that long, and they didn’t want to move on. They’re part of the family, you can’t tell them to move on, and you help them, that’s what you do. It is very difficult to get people with special needs placed, we knew them and we wanted them to be safe.”
After becoming Shared Lives carers to support Silvia into adulthood, Emma and Tommy naturally became Shared Lives carers for Margret.
Emma said: “Margret bakes, makes cup of teas, she loves water and bubbles so you have to watch her, but she has come on loads, we’re really proud of her. We treat them like our own, they are our own- and we really love them like our own. Margret is doing work experience at a garden centre at the moment, we take her.  She left her IPad at the centre recently, Tommy offered to take her over the next day to get it. Margret ended up getting two buses by herself that day, there and back, I was over the moon and so proud- but I told her that Tommy would have taken her.”
We asked Emma and Tommy what is the secret to caring and supporting people for over 50 years, from childhood into their adult life.
Emma said: “It makes a big difference if you’re helping them all you can, and steering them in the right direction, we teach them as much as we can- and to be independent. You have to treat the people you support like your own, part of the family. I miss Silvia so much, the day centre she used to go to made us a lovely teddy bear and cushion from clothes she had left there before she passed away,  and  a polar neck she wore, it said ‘ A hug when you need it’, they thought the world of her.”
Shared Lives Plus would like to thank Emma and Tommy for sharing their story with us and congratulate them on their amazing recognition for their services to care for the last 50 years.
We are delighted to share Leanne's story today with everyone. Leanne who uses Shared Lives services recently contacted us as she loves to tell stories. This is her inspiring Shared Lives story, we are all very proud of Leanne's achievements with Shared Lives and we would like to thank her for sharing her Shared Lives journey with us.
Leanne writes:
When I was asked to do this for Shared lives week it took me a while to write, not because I didn’t want to write it, mostly because I didn’t know what to say. What do you say about the service, the shared lives carers who helped you to grow into the person you could only dream about four and a half years previous?
Anyone that knows me, will know that one of my favourite hobbies is to write stories and tell stories to anyone who will listen, so if you don’t mind, I would like to tell you one now…
It all began many years ago when I was 10 years old, I had this dream of becoming a social worker and despite my disabilities I worked as hard as I could (and sometimes not at all) throughout school and college in the hope of one day achieving my dream. –How is this all relevant you ask? Let me tell you…
 In the January of 2012, I was diagnosed with a rare medical condition on top of my already complicated disabilities. The condition took over my life and put a stop to my dream. Not only did I now have a medical condition, which I couldn’t control, I had increasing mental health issues. I don’t mind sharing, suicidal thoughts were becoming like an old friend of mine. My condition and my mental health state was putting enormous pressure on the relationships I had with my family. In the January of 2013, I found out just how much. I was admitted to hospital for what was supposed to be routine treatment, a few days later I was visited by a social worker who explained to me that due to a breakdown in the relationships between myself and my family, I was now homeless.
It took a lot of discussion between the social worker and I but I brought up the option of Shared Lives as I had heard about the support it offered to adults with additional needs.  Me being who I am, I was a little reluctant to become a part of the scheme as “I don’t need help” how wrong I was. In hindsight, I can truly say I didn’t realise how much help I needed until I’d had it.
On the 23rd of January 2013 I met Josephine, I can remember like it was yesterday, I was sat in my hospital bed trying to concentrate on what was being asked but all I could think was how this woman with the kindest smile and it seemed even kinder heart had made me feel the most human id felt in a long time. I was so distracted by this, I agreed to not liking cucumber… 4 years later and both Josephine and Paul, Josephine’s husband,  still believe I don’t like cucumber, when really I do. 
Anyway on the 24th,  I moved into the place I was only supposed to be staying “a few weeks.” A couple of months past and I’d found myself fitting in with Josephine and Paul’s lifestyle, even joining Blackpool Bears with the help of Josephine, but this wasn’t my greatest achievement. My greatest achievement in that first few months was the smallest of all things… getting on a bus. By myself. It sounds ridiculous, a what was 20 year old that had never been on a bus on her own before, but it was true. My mental health state was the biggest issue, my anxiety stopped me from doing almost everything, making me fear I was going to get something wrong, get lost or worst die. So that day when Josephine told me she was going to drop me off at my appointment and I would have to make my way back by bus myself I feared everything. Literally dreading the end of my appointment even though she had told me the exact route to use. To cut a long story short, I did it. I got on the bus and I got off at the right stop. Although it was a very small thing, I felt like I had achieved a lot. Yes the whole plan seems a little unorthodox to some people but Josephine knew that was the kind of approach that I needed and what a fantastic approach that was. I now spend half of my time on and off buses, and the other half it seems waiting for them….
Anyway that wasn’t the only breakthrough I’d had in the few months after id moved in, Paul had even talked me into going to see a counsellor and I found myself being able to open up to not only the counsellor but Josephine and Paul too. If there is one thing I can always count on is for at least one of them to show an interest in what I have to say. I say at least one because lets be fair to them I talk a lot now but I never really wanted to. That’s the point I’m getting at. When you have a mental health issue like I had, sometimes all you really need is someone to take notice, to listen and overall offer the help you didn’t think you wanted. I found that in them both.  They have offered me so much, in the way of offering me the space to express who I am, yes they might not agree with my loud music or my constant concert going, flying off to different countries, including America with nothing but my best friend for support,  but without the support from them in the first instance, like throwing me into the deep end and onto a bus I wouldn’t do these things.
In the beginning of this story I began by telling you about the dream I had of becoming a social worker and how it had all come to an end. Turns out that wasn’t the end. Thanks to    Josephine and Paul’s constant support with my physical conditions and my mental health  I was confident enough and motivated enough to return to education.  I started my social work degree in the September of 2013 only nine months after moving in with these two. Its been 4 years now and I’m just coming to the end of my degree, hoping to graduate in December with a first class honours degree in the one profession I’d dreamed of since being a child. I always get a little over emotional when I speak about this because over four years ago I would have never have dreamt I would be in this position and that is without a doubt down to the support and love I have received from being a part of shared lives. Josephine and Paul have given me back my self-confidence and self worth and a lot more besides. Without them I can truly say I wouldn’t be the person I am today. There is a quote from Harry potter, that I love that says “happiness can be found in the most darkest of times, if one remembers to turn on the light” -Albus Dumbledore. I love this because it reminds me of what they have done for me. They helped me turn on the light in my darkest times, with my depression and illness, when no one else could and through that, I was able to grow as a person and find happiness. True happiness.
I’ve learnt a lot whilst being here, like how to cook, how not to bake, how to clean and how not to… mostly how to avoid it, but most of all I’ve learnt so much about myself and for that I probably owe them everything.
I’ll be moving on soon, to a house of my own, and despite how far I may end up, because thanks to them, who knows, I’ll never forget what they have done for me.
This was a story about how a young girl, found the light with the help of two wonderful people and became a woman.

For Shared Lives week 2017, Lesley Dixon, CEO of Person Shared Support (PSS) writes a guest blog for Shared Lives and tells us why she believes Shared Lives should be a choice for all people with support needs.

PSS is a business with a heart that helps people change their lives for the better. We provide a range of health and social care services that help people from all different backgrounds get the most from their lives, and since we were founded in 1919, we’ve never stood still. We’re always looking for new ways to help – which, in 1978, led us to set up the UK’s first Shared Lives scheme.

As you may or may not know Shared Lives is a form of support where vulnerable adults and young people over 16 live at home with a specially recruited and trained Shared Lives carer and their family.
At the moment, 362 people in the UK use our Shared Lives scheme across our long-term, short breaks and day support schemes, and we currently have over 400 carers.
Shared Lives is a great option for everyone in need of some day-to-day support – whatever their needs may be.  With over 400 carers, we can match people’s needs to the Shared Lives carers that can best support them, giving our service-users as much choice as possible.
At the moment, 60% of the people who use our Shared Lives scheme have some form of learning disability.
7% of people using the scheme have mental health challenges.
10% are older people, who may be frail or need some extra day-to-day
8% suffer from dementia
5% have complex and risky behaviours.
When we met Josh, he had been using drugs and alcohol as a way of bonding with his dad, who also had a drug and alcohol addiction. Josh was recovering from a mental health breakdown, which resulted in him being sectioned. He came to live with one of our Shared Lives carers in Liverpool to help him recover from everything he’d been through. After about a year, Josh was feeling well enough to return home – and is now living with his mum. Last we heard, he had started attending college, which is great news and shows the powerful impact a Shared Lives placement can have on someone like Josh.
We’re also seeing more and more care-leavers and vulnerable young people using the scheme.
In terms of referrals into the service from social workers, GPs, etc  – we’ve had quite a mixed experience. Some really see the potential benefits Shared Lives could have – others know less about it. As a result, we often have Shared Lives carers with vacancies just waiting to be filled – and that’s a real shame.
To fix this problem, we think social workers, GPs and others who can make referrals into the service need to have a better understanding of what Shared Lives is and what it can bring to the lives of the people who use it. We need to help them understand that, although the process of matching a service-user to a Shared Lives carer can take a bit of time in the long-run, the outcomes are well worth it in the end – and can take pressure off them in the long-run.
Not only does the scheme have some great outcomes, it’s also really cost effective. In our latest social impact report, which is available on the PSS website, we found that Shared Lives is 51% cheaper than residential care and 35% cheaper than supported living.
The model’s also really adaptable. We’re currently in the middle of piloting a scheme called Home from Hospital, which is designed to help vulnerable adults leaving hospital make the transition from hospital life to independent, or supported, home life, by placing them in a Shared Lives arrangement for up to six weeks.  For every week an older person spends in hospital, their recovery can be delayed by up to six months – and the likelihood of them being readmitted within a year increases.  We’re hoping that the Home from Hospital scheme will help people get out of hospital sooner and more safely – saving the NHS money and getting people back on their feet more quickly… but we’re depending on NHS and social care workers to work together with us to make this a success.
We’re incredibly proud of the impact our Shared Lives schemes have had on people up and down the UK and we truly believe in terms of diversity and scale the only way is up.
I firmly believe that Shared Lives is a real choice for all.
Monday, 19 June 2017 12:55

Shared Lives- A Choice For All


Shared Lives week 2017 celebrates the diversity of people using our care model, from people with learning disabilities, people with mental ill health and long term illnesses- Shared Lives is supporting people in the UK, to live a better life in a family home. 

This year’s Shared Lives week will be about spreading awareness of our care model, demonstrating that Shared Lives should be offered as a choice for all people with support needs that could benefit from using Shared Lives services.

Shared Lives carers often support people with a variety and number of support needs, the positive impact this has on people’s wellbeing is life-changing. Therefore, this year we are urging MP’s, organisations and people in social care to spread awareness, so that Shared Lives is offered to all people that could benefit from it. Whilst it may not be the right fit for every single person, we believe it should certainly be a choice for all.

Shared Lives Ambassador, Michael said: “Shared Lives carers have helped me out with emotional support, gave me someone to talk too, be healthier and I’ve been supported well, and everything I’ve learned with Shared Lives will help me in the future.”

At a time when social care is in crisis and underfunded, Shared Lives can offer an alternative for people to live in a family home, with plenty of support and increase people’s independence- all whilst saving local authorities money that is needed with budgets being cut.

We’re asking all our Shared Lives carers, Shared Lives Plus members, schemes and people who use Shared Lives services, to spread the word far and wide. So many people can benefit from Shared Lives, it’s time they learnt that there is another option out there, in a family home with support- to help people get involved in their local community and work towards their own goals.

That’s why this year’s theme is #SharedLivesChoiceForAll - we would love everyone to get involved on social media. Share your stories, tell people in your community about Shared Lives and spread the word that Shared Lives should be a choice for all people who need support, and could benefit from living in a family environment.

Throughout this Shared Lives week we are sharing stories from Shared Lives carers, people who use our services and spreading awareness throughout the country, please join us and get involved in your local areas.

Shared Lives barbeque

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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