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Date published: September 13, 2023

Latest report for Shared Lives care in Northern Ireland shows hunger for growth of the model

Today (September 13th), Shared Lives Plus has released the state of the nation report for Shared Lives care during 2021-22 in Northern Ireland. The report shows that growth of the Shared Lives model in the area has been slowed by the Covid-19 pandemic, though the small growth the sector has seen is indicative of the hunger there is for Shared Lives to be expanded across Northern Ireland.


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This day also marks the launch of a new Age NI service. The latest Shared Lives scheme (also known as adult placement in Northern Ireland) was set up after the Department of Health awarded them a contract to extend Shared Lives care to older people across the nation.

Shared Lives Plus has been working with key stakeholders in Northern Ireland to support other groups, in particular older people. This work reflects how the model has expanded in the rest of the UK to support a broader range of vulnerable adults.

Four out of the five Health and Social Care trusts in Northern Ireland already have adult placement schemes who support people with learning disabilities.

  • The total number of people supported by Shared Lives in Northern Ireland is 264.
  • Of these, 96% live with a learning disability, 2% are supported for a physical impairment, 1% for mental ill health, and 1% for dementia.
  • In age categories, 81% are working age adults (aged 25-64), 18% are young adults (those aged 18-24), and 1% are older people (those aged 65+).
  • Shared Lives carers in Northern Ireland provide a range of support. Of the types of support provided, 41% receive short breaks, 35% are on long term placements and 24% receive day support.

Short breaks and day support arrangements help provide the much needed rest and time off that all carers need, whilst long term placements can help those in need of support find a stable and caring environment.

Corey’s story shows the vital role that short breaks from Shared Lives carers can play in the social care landscape. Joanne and Stuart Stevenson, are registered carers with Positive Futures and have been providing short breaks in their home to Corey since 2010.

Joanne and Stuart reflected on their time with Corey, saying: “Corey has been a part of our family for 12 years now and getting involved with him is easily the best decision we have made as a family.”

“The entire Stevenson family mean everything to me and Corey” says Sonya Holmes, Corey’s mother.

She added: “They are the only support I have for Corey; I appreciate everything they do for him.”

RQIA, (the regulatory body in Northern Ireland) reports on Shared Lives/Adult Placement schemes as consistently good. Shared Lives remains a highly cost-effective form of adult social care. An independent review found that Shared Lives resulted in an average saving of between £8,000 and £30,000 a year, depending on the person’s support needs and local alternative services.

“It is rare that very personalised services can be both excellent in quality and highly competitive financially.” Says Ruth Donaldson, Social Care Lead Older People & Adults Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG).

Age NI’s new Shared Lives scheme for older people will provide day support to older people who may be lonely and isolated, or in the early stage of need in terms of dementia or physical issues. Discussion about this new service has been overwhelmingly positive. The scheme will be launching today, and Ewan King, Shared Lives Plus CEO, will be in attendance.