Age NI have launched a new scheme across Northern Ireland, extending Shared Lives care to older people across the nation. The service will provide day support to people aged 65 and over who may be lonely, isolated or need extra help. The launch is indicative of the hunger to grow Shared Lives in Northern Ireland.
Age NI hosted a launch event for the new scheme on the 13th of September. Ewan King, Shared Lives Plus CEO, was in attendance alongside Shared Lives carers, members of the Department of Health, and those from Age NI.
“It was a massive honour to be asked to contribute to the launch of the new Shared Lives scheme for older people in Northern Ireland, to be delivered by Age NI. The new service offers older people a safe, welcoming, family environment, supported by carefully chosen host carers” says Ewan.
“The service has got off to a flying start, with five Shared Lives carers already recruited and approved. I’m looking forward to when the service starts supporting older people later this year.”
Age NI is well established in its support of older people and provision of care services, as well as projects that promote the health and wellbeing of older people and their carers. Those at Age NI are excited to further this work with the launch of this new scheme.
Linda Robinson, Age NI Chief Executive, said: “As a model of care, Shared Lives offers older people more choice in how support is provided. It provides real opportunities to develop friendships and community connections, reducing loneliness and isolation.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Department of Health and local Health and Social Care Trusts to deliver this new, regional Shared Lives service for older people.”
The service is funded by the Department of Health for three years, with the possibility of it being extended for a further two years. During this time, it is hoped that the service will grow and develop to include short breaks and live-in care.
“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).
Brendan Whittle, Director of Community Care at the Department of Health, added: “This is an exciting opportunity to provide early intervention and support to older people, in order to ensure they stay as independent for as long as possible and remain well connected to their communities, which in turn will help to take the pressure off our health and social care system.”
On the 13th of September Shared Lives Plus released the state of the nation report for Shared Lives care during 2021-22 in Northern Ireland. The report shows that growth of Shared Lives 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.
You can find out more about the Age NI scheme here: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/northern-ireland/services/carewellbeing-services/shared-lives/