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“The Shared Lives secret should be made widely known – kind, caring families with a spare room are out there!”

Five years ago, Kirsty Stubbs had a life-changing accident and acquired a brain injury. She’d been living in a care home ever since, but she wanted to move and her family wanted to support her. 

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Kerry Faulkner, Shared Lives manager in Hertfordshire County Council, says “Kirsty’s mother contacted me and was extremely keen for her daughter to be in Shared Lives.

As we were in the middle of lockdown, we had to be creative with matching as we couldn’t do any of the usual processes. It was unrealistic to think that Kirsty would self-isolate in her room for two weeks if she even had a tea visit and Sheik and Roumanah, the Shared Lives carers we’d suggested as a potential match, were not able to visit her due to the restrictions. So talking with Sheik and Roumanah, we made the most of technology to help them and Kirsty get to know each other gradually. They Skyped her every week for months until everyone was happy it was a match where they could truly be at home with each other.

Kirsty’s family also met the Shared Lives family and worked with them to ensure a smooth transition. The room was adapted for Kirsty’s needs as she is partially blind, so they installed an ensuite shower room and an Occupational Therapst visited to install grab rails to make it easy to get around.

“Just after Kirsty moved in Sheik and Roumanah found out they were having another baby (which was a bit of a surprise for us all!) but we all worked together to ensure there was a contingency plan in place to allow continuity of care for Kirsty and the other gentleman they support in Shared Lives, with an additional ‘support carer’ approved alongside the one the family already had.”

Joyce Stubbs, Kirsty’s mum reflects: “The Shared Lives secret should be made widely known – amongst health and social services, charities and many more.  Since my adult daughter, a head injury survivor, moved to her wonderful new Shared Lives family in February 2021, she has been able to enjoy family meals, movie nights, helping the children with their spelling, listening to their bickering and simply being accepted and valued for the person she now is since her accident.

Working with the family is a pleasure, most especially since the family has now expanded to include a new-born baby girl. Kind, caring families with appropriate experience and a suitable spare room are out there, as are countless adults with particular needs. So please spread the word so that more people can be looked after by those who know how to care.”

If you are interested in becoming a Shared Lives carer, find out more here, or if you would like to be part of a Shared Lives family – contact your local scheme here.