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Date published: March 8, 2022

“We want more Shared Lives care”: Secretary of State backs growth in reform speech

Today in his speech setting out his vision for health and social care, Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care called on councils to grow Shared Lives care as “an exciting model of social care’ and one that he is ‘wants to work with local authorities to grow their Shared Lives service in every area of our country’.

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The Secretary of State’s speech, at the Royal College of Physicians, set out changes in services which help prevent demand on the health and social care services, and offer personalised care, closer to home.  In his thoughts on personalisation, Sajid Javid said he had heard of an exciting scheme called Shared Lives, where ‘people have lived together for decades’ and he heralded it as “the kind of innovative social care service, of which there are many, that we need to grow.”

In a reverse of typical care services, Shared Lives carers are the ultimate post-pandemic job opportunity as they see carers provide personalised Shared Lives support in the carer’s home – on either a long-term, respite or day-support basis.

There are over 12,000 people in England who live with, or visit a Shared Lives carer, and together share their family and community life.

Jayne Wilson, Acting CEO said, “Shared Lives care is a well-established option for the future social care as it is highly personalised, highly rewarding – both for people who draw on social care support and for those that are Shared Lives carers and paid for sharing their home, family and community life. We all need people and places that we can call home – and for thousands of people already living or visiting a Shared Lives carer, that’s a reality where their social care support enables them to flourish, participate and enjoy their strengths and relationships in their communities.

“The Secretary of State’s support draws attention to Britain’s best kept social care secret and we are pleased that it is in the spotlight as many more people could benefit from it.

“We are looking forward to working with our members, Shared Lives services and carers in councils and charities to grow and expand their Shared Lives service, unpicking barriers that have prevented their growth for so long. We are on a mission so that every person who draws on social care is offered Shared Lives as an option and we look forward to sharing our experiences from across our membership network.”

Shared Lives carers are assessed, carefully approved by a regulated Shared Lives scheme run by local council or charity, and they match the carer with someone who draws on social care support according to similar lifestyles, hobbies, as well as support needs.

Together, the person needing support and the Shared Lives carer share the carer’s family and community life. It can support people with a learning disability, mental ill health, young people leaving care, older people with dementia, people escaping domestic abuse or those leaving hospital.

There are Shared Lives services in nearly every area of England, but currently it forms just 1% of the UK’s social care provision. Some of the 140 Shared Lives services in England support fewer than 50 people, others support over 300. There is significant potential for growth of Shared Lives services, which are consistently rated the best quality and safest forms of social care service, by the Care Quality Commission.

The Secretary of State, Sajid Javid MP also highlighted Shared Lives care at the Onward Social Fabric Summit in May 2022: “Another example of personalised care is the Shared Lives programme, where people in the need of care go to live with carers and become like any other member of the family.

Think of it like fostering, but for adults. I’ve heard wonderful stories of people living together for decades. At this point in time some 9,000 people in England are supported in this way and I want to see this ambitious model being expanded, making it available to people right across the country.”