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Hello to all Shared Lives carers

I’m Liane the newly appointed Shared Lives carer Support Officer. I’ve joined Shared Lives Plus on a short-term basis to give some extra support to our carer champion team. I wanted to tell you a little bit about myself, so you know who is working with the team.

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“I previously worked with adults with physical/learning disabilities, mental ill-health, challenging behaviour, dementia, Motor Neurone disease (often those at end of life) and their carers by setting up a new Carers Service for a local charity in July 2014, which was funded by local authority. Having been a carer myself I could identify with the needs of many carers I spoke to, with whom the new service was co-produced.  It was to be a CQC regulated environment, so to prepare I studied for my NVQ5 in Health and Social Care management and shadowed some very experienced senior staff who had regular CQC inspections themselves. It was a steep learning curve but a rewarding one.

“There were a number of people’s lives which touched me greatly and had I known there was an alternative Shared Lives service to the standard care homes or secure psychiatric units and supported living provisions, a number of previous clients/service users would still be in a secure loving environment, rather than being uprooted at their most vulnerable;  due to their dementia,  learning/physical disabilities or autism, challenging behaviour, poor mental health, substance abuse or the passing of their elderly parents. When I saw the Shared Lives Plus role advertised and the Shared Lives mission statement I didn’t hesitate to apply!

So many carers struggled on way beyond what was reasonable, detrimentally affecting their wellbeing when a simple, timely respite intervention (through our service or a model such as Shared Lives Plus) or a peer support offer (Family to Family) could have averted crisis, when  their ability to care for their loved-one was exhausted.

Better communication, increased awareness/resourcing and a proactive rather than reactive approach to supporting carers can avoid the gut-wrenching moment where they simply can’t function anymore and their loved one is taken into care.  Emergency care, can often be a frightening experience for the loved-one and the carer is left with feelings of guilt as well as exhaustion.

I supported an elderly couple who had been married for 70 years struggling to cope with his dementia; the cry for help came too late and we found the poor carer in a foetal position on her bed unable to get up, whilst her husband was transferred to a local hospital’s psych ward. He was terrified and confused and still understood that although he was forgetful and dependent, he most certainly didn’t need to be on a secure unit with some very seriously unwell individuals.

Carers often felt isolated and lonely, so by being given the respite through our service, they were able to reconnect with friends/the greater community.

My next role was managing a Daycentre which offered support for individuals with dementia and those with physical and learning disabilities. My day to day was managing a staff team of 30 across 4 locations, supporting parent carers and their families, liaising with health and social care teams and best of all supporting the service users themselves.

I learned a lot from visiting professionals including Speech and language, Behavioural therapists and Epilepsy nurses. I was involved with a number of safeguardings and worked with other agencies such as social care and the police. I was brought in to bring more robust procedures so that the organisation was working at a level comparable to one that was regulated.

Having lost my father to Lewy Body dementia, I founded a small charity raising this little- known dementia’s profile. In addition to an online information resource, I provided inhouse and external training sessions.

In my spare time I enjoy playing hockey and squash, cycling and walking my rescue greyhound. I am on the committee of the local MNDA and Southend Ladies Hockey Club- for which I have set up a new disabled section and assist in fundraising for a new pitch.

I look forwards to working with you! If you would like to talk through any ideas, concerns about anything to do with your Shared Lives carer role, in confidence, please ring 0151 227 3455,