At Shared Lives Plus we’ve had a year full of ups and downs – much like the wider social care sector – but our focus remains on supporting Shared Lives carers to continue providing the fantastic support they do every day, as well as the growth of shared living across the UK, including both Shared Lives and Homeshare.
Everyone is feeling the pinch of the cost-of-living crisis which continues to put pressure on pay and respite for Shared Lives carers. Our Invaluable Campaign is helping local schemes make the case for fairer fees for their carers, with some already having success. I have personally spoken to Directors of Adult Social Care in over 50 local authorities over the last eight months, where I have raised the issue of carer fees and respite allocation. I hope the message is beginning to land that carers need fair fees and better access to breaks.
For me, there have been some highlights this year that reaffirm my belief there are exciting times ahead for all those involved in shared living.
Shared Lives Plus were invited to attend a reception for social care workers at 10 Downing Street. The event was hosted by Helen Whately, Minister for Care. Thanks to our Carer Champion Steve, I’m pretty sure everyone in attendance knew all about the wonders of Shared Lives.
A Shared Lives household featured on Channel 4 News! Andy and Emma support Gary from their home in Oldham. They spoke to reporter Ruben Rueter about what Shared Lives means to them. National coverage like this is vital for spreading the word about Shared Lives and is something we can facilitate at Shared Lives Plus and we were pleased to see Shared Lives carers from PSS feature on Channel 4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch.
We are massively excited that seven new Homeshare organisations will be joining the Homeshare UK network, making Homeshare more widely available across the UK. The new members will be delivering Homeshare from the South East of England all the way up to Scotland. This is another positive step towards addressing the plight of loneliness amongst all generations; these programmes will help reduce loneliness in local communities by bringing together those in need of a bit of extra support with those who have a housing need.
In October, the Government launched the Accelerating Reform Fund (ARF), which set out their priorities for funding the growth of social care innovation. We were delighted that shared living (encapsulating Shared Lives and Homeshare) was listed as one of twelve innovative adult social care priorities set out by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). In the DHSC announcement about the Fund, Shared Lives and Homeshare were two of only a few examples given.
Shared Lives Plus took part in the first DHSC funded webinar – on the subject of the Accelerating reform fund – hosted by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). I spoke about how Shared Lives and Homeshare can benefit local authorities, alongside the fantastic Shared Lives Ambassador Heather, who spoke about how Shared Lives can benefit those that draw on support.
Local authorities are now invited to register their interest with the DHSC by the 12th of January, in partnership with others in their integrated care systems. Local authorities will be guided by a list of priorities and are expected to work collaboratively.
All this shows there is an appetite for the growth of innovative approaches to social care and support services, such as Shared Lives and Homeshare. For me, despite the difficulties we, like many social care organisations have faced, 2023 has been a year of hope. Exciting times are ahead – moving into 2024 there will be opportunities to continue growing shared living across the UK, let’s grasp them.
Thank you for all the work you do helping people live more fulfilling lives. Wishing you all a great festive season and a happy new year.