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Shared Lives in England 2019-2020

The latest data about the Shared Lives sector in England  in 2019-20 shows that Shared Lives is still the highest quality form of social care. Live-in arrangements continue to grow, showing how resilient Shared Lives is even in the context of long-term austerity and the beginnings of the Covid-19 pandemic.  This report describes the size and health of Shared Lives in England.

For overall figures, across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, please read this

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Key messages

  • Shared Lives creates the best outcomes for people who need support. CQC rated Shared Lives schemes as 96% good or outstanding – the highest of any form of social care. 97% of people living in Shared Lives felt they were part of the family most or all the time. 90% felt that their Shared Lives carer’s support improved their social life. 84% found it easier to have friends.
  • There were more people than ever before living in Shared Lives arrangements. The number of people living with their Shared Lives carer long-term grew by 250 (or +4%) to 7150.
  • The continued growth of live-in support, in which the full value, quality and impact of Shared Lives are realised, shows the resilience and flexibility of the Shared Lives model at a time when the social care system is under pressure from the effects of austerity and the Covid-19 pandemic
  • However, the numbers of both short breaks and day support arrangements were down by -340 people (or -11%) and -460 people (or -11%) respectively. It is vital that decision-makers continue to invest in short-term support to help struggling families across England. Shared Lives is an invaluable source of short-term support, providing diverse, community-based alternative experiences for people and much-needed breaks for family carers.

People supported by Shared Lives carers and schemes in England

Shared Lives supported a total of 11470 people overall in 2019-2020. This is a drop of 550 people, or -3%, from the previous year. Support needs Shared Lives supports people with a wide range of needs. The most common support needs in 2019-2020 were:

  • 7720 people with a learning disability, which is 67% of the total number of people supported in Shared Lives. There were 370 (or -5%) fewer people supported compared to last year in this category.
  • 840 people with autism or Asperger’s, which is 7% of the total number of people supported in Shared Lives. There were 130 (or +18%) more people supported compared to last year in this category.
  • 610 people with mental ill health, which is 5% of the total number of people supported in Shared Lives. There were 80 (or -12%) fewer people supported compared to last year in this category.
  • 580 people with a support need associated with older age, which is just under 5% of the total number of people supported in Shared Lives. There were 100 (or -15%) fewer, people supported compared to last year in this category.
  • 500 people with dementia, which is 4% of the total number of people supported in Shared Lives. There were 70 (or +16%) more people supported compared to last year in this category.
  • 470 people with a physical impairment, which is 4% of the total number of people supported in Shared Lives. There were 30 (or +7%) more people supported compared to last year in this category.

Age of people in Shared Lives

Shared Lives can support adults of all ages, from those leaving care to those at retirement age. People supported in Shared Lives in 2019-2020 included:

  • 90 younger adults (those aged 16-17) – 1% of those supported overall 2180 young adults in transition (those aged 18-24) – 19% of those supported overall
  • 7490 Working age adults (aged 25-64) – 65% of those supported overall
  • 1700 older people (those aged 65+) – 15% of those supported overall.

Types of support  

Shared Lives is a flexible support option, in which a person can choose to spend just a day or overnight visit per week with their Shared Lives carer, or instead move in with them long-term. The different types of arrangements in 2019-2020 included:

  • 7150 long term, live-in arrangements, which is 62% of the overall number of arrangements. There were 250 (or +4%) more of these arrangements than the previous year
  • 2750 short break arrangements, which is 24% of the overall number of arrangements. There were 340 (or -11%) fewer of these arrangements than the previous year
  • 1570 day support arrangements, which is 14% of the overall number of arrangements. There were 460 (or -23%) fewer of these arrangements than the previous year.

Shared Lives carers

There were 9380 Shared Lives carers working across England in 2019-2020, 330 (or +4%) more than the previous year. A total of 1180 new Shared Lives carers were approved, and a total of 540 ceased working as Shared Lives carers.

Shared Lives workforce

There were 780 (full-time equivalent) Shared Lives scheme workers in England in 2019-2020, which is 30 (or -4%) fewer than last year.

Full report