We provide UK guidance on all aspects of Shared Lives and while Shared Lives schemes are regulated and inspected by care inspectors, we encourage and expect all our members to use and adapt our guidance which is developed in partnership with members to provide best practice.
In order to protect people in Shared Lives from financial abuse or the mishandling of their money, and to protect Shared Lives carers from allegations of misconduct and abuse, it is important that Shared Lives carers and schemes follow appropriate procedures and keep records.
“Shared Lives care is flexible, but this should not come at the cost of proper safeguards in financial recording.”
Shared Lives schemes and carers should aim for a good balance between the safety of the individual using Shared Lives, and the restrictions on the Shared Lives carer.
The person in Shared Lives is not obliged to share their financial records with either the Shared Lives carer or the Shared Lives scheme.
The person’s financial records would be handled by a DWP appointee, Court-appointed deputy or guardian, or someone with Lasting or Continuing Power of Attorney for property and financial affairs. The Shared Lives carer cannot access the financial records directly (unless they are the DWP appointee) and must work with whoever handles the person’s financial affairs for any information they require.
Shared Lives carers are not normally encouraged to act as the person’s appointee for claiming welfare benefits or managing the person’s finances, however, there are situations where this may be the best option. Where a Shared Lives carer is the DWP appointee for the person they support, decisions need to be made and recorded around amounts of spending, recording spending, and the support provided. These decisions and records apply between the Shared Lives carer, the scheme, and the Local Authority. Where a Shared Lives carer is the appointee, they should regularly monitor bank accounts and check records, and Shared Lives carers should be prepared for this if they take on this responsibility.
Shared Lives carers should always keep their own money separate from that of the people living with them:
The Shared Lives scheme should aim to provide meaningful financial monitoring, which is robust without being onerous on the scheme, the Shared Lives carer, or the person themselves. This requires the ability to balance what is legally and legislatively required, against best and safe practice, without losing the family life ethos of Shared Lives. However, the more control the Shared Lives carer has over the finances of the person they support, the closer the scrutiny, and the more careful the recording, must be.
The Shared Lives scheme should provide guidance, templates, forms and/or folders for their Shared Lives carers to maintain, record and keep all the financial recording in one place. This will enable Shared Lives carers to follow the Shared Lives scheme policies and procedures around financial management closely and allow the scheme to carry out their monitoring more easily. These forms and templates should cover all eventualities regarding the type of support that a person might require.
Monitoring and support visits are usually carried out at least quarterly by Shared Lives schemes. Whether financial records are checked as regularly will depend on how much financial management the Shared Lives carer is expected to do, but quarterly is a good rule of thumb. If the Shared Lives carer is the DWP appointee, leaving more than three months between checks will make it a long and complicated task, with it being harder to pick up on, or rectify, any errors. However, someone who only has regular short breaks with a Shared Lives carer and who brings a small amount of money, that they mostly manage themselves, could be monitored every six months, or even at the yearly review.
All checks and records should be signed and dated by the Shared Lives carers and the Shared Lives scheme, for when audits take place.
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