As a carer you can join for as little as £60!
If you would like to join as a Shared Lives Scheme then do get in touch with us for further information on Pricing
To join as a Shared Lives carer, you must be currently approved to provide Shared Lives care by a registered Shared Lives (or Adult Placement) scheme in the UK.
Shared Lives carers make their home available as a resource and may provide Shared Lives support to up to three people at any one time (some Shared Lives schemes have a local limit of two people).
Unlike care homes, Shared Lives carers do not employ staff to provide care to the people who they support. You can join as an individual, or with your partner, if s/he is also a Shared Lives carer.
As a member, you can expect: - Use of the free Shared Lives carers’ confidential helpline where you can obtain information advice and support from a dedicated national Carers Development Worker.
- FREE legal expenses cover (up to a maximum of £25000) if you have an allegation made against you as a Shared Lives carer resulting in you being taken to court and/or your Scheme is seekingto de-approve you as a carer.
- Free access to a legal helpline which you can use for advice on any relevant legal issue.
- Public Liability Insurance at a preferential rate as well as access to other insurance provision developed to meet the needs of Shared Lives carers.
- Three Shared Lives carer newsletters a year via post, which keep you up to date.- The opportunity to meet or get in touch with other carers, including through meetings, telephone conferences, an email group and a message board.
- A members-only area of the website containing resources which are free to members
Access to a wide range of toolkits and resources at members-only prices.
- Access to our annual Shared Lives carers’ breaks and conference.
- A conference for your home nation and/or for the UK, with a limited number of places for Shared Lives carers at supported rates.
- An open invitation to attend national network meetings (and regional meetings in England).- At least one seat on the board of Shared Lives Plus for an elected Shared Lives carer.
- A voice with local, regional and national decision makers and a programme of awareness-raising about Shared Lives and the work of Shared Lives carers.
We want to know about your experiences around the issue of self-funding people accessing Shared Lives. Please spare a few minutes to answer some questions - it will help us to expand the offer of Shared Lives to people who pay for their own care all around the UK.
Access to Shared Lives is usually through a referral from a social worker or health provider and comes with a financial assessment and an established pathway to pay for the service.
Under the enormous pressures of austerity, however, many older people are no longer meeting the assessment criteria for care and are having to fund their own care needs. People with a dementia diagnosis are often not offered a paid for service until the dementia is far advanced.
In recent years, as services have been reduced, many people have been forced to self-fund support to increase their quality of life. Family and informal carers may also choose to pay towards care and support for a loved one to supplement the informal support they provide or to provide respite.
Until recently it was difficult for Shared Lives to support self-funders due to tax laws, but in November 2017 a significant update to tax law was announced which ensures that Shared Lives carers can continue to claim tax relief when they support people who pay for their own care.
There is little understanding of how self-funders can access Shared Lives, particularly those schemes that are operated by local authorities. Shared Lives Plus are looking at how to open up Shared Lives to Self-funders and develop pathways for self-funders wishing to use Shared Lives. As a first step we are interested to find out more about how schemes are offering support to people who self-fund their care.
Definition of Self funder:
A self-funder is a person who pays the full cost of their care and support from their own financial resources.
People may self-fund their care and support because:
1) They have not approached public authorities and made their own arrangements for their care and support.
2) They have been assessed by the Local Authority and do not meet the threshold for publicly funded assistance.
3) They have been assessed by the Local Authority as being eligible forcare and support services but have savings or assets above the self-funding threshold set by the government currently, £23,250.
We are delighted to publish the Homeshare annual sector report. It is a comprehensive analysis of the national Homeshare sector, laying out the key success, challenges and priorities for Homeshare in the UK.
It reflects on the remarkable growth in public awareness of the Homeshare model after high profile media appearances and a video of Florence and Alexandra on BBC politics that has been viewed 25 million times.
The report calls for local areas to become ‘Homeshare friendly,’ and for national and local leadership to make Homeshare affordable for people on low incomes. We are also asking for Homeshare to be scaled up and developed in places where there is currently limited access to the scheme, particularly Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the North East and South East of England.
Please take the time to read the full report for full picture of Homeshare in the UK, depicted in statistics and stories of people whose lives have been transformed and enriched by sharing a home, exchanging practical help, knowledge and companionship.
If you’re on the go, you can read the executive summary for some key facts!
You can also read an the reports on the Homeshare UK website.
New ratings show that 96% Shared Lives carers and schemes were rated good or outstanding by care inspectors in England, smashing a Shared Lives best – improving on previous ratings of 92% - and still leading the social care sector for safety and quality.
Shared Lives care is driven by the leadership in the UK’s network of 150 schemes who match people with Shared Lives carers, approved to open their own homes, to support people through tough times and enjoy life together. National data shows that sharing everyday life has transformative outcomes for people often stuck in the health and care system, with clear benefits for people’s health, independence and confidence.
But today the CQC reflects our own warning of a postcode lottery for Shared Lives support as health and social care services struggle with the pressure of funding cuts. The CQC’s State of Care report says: “Some people can easily access good care, while others cannot access the services they need, experience ‘disjointed’ care, or only have access to providers with poor services.”
We continue to call on local leaders to invest in Shared Lives care, which adapts well to the needs of local populations. Our latest Shared Lives England report shows that as our ageing population grows and by 2020, three million of us are expected to have three or more long term conditions, there has been a 24% increase in the number of older people who are supported by a Shared Lives carer. If every scheme supported as many people as the best performing, an additional 21,000 people could enjoy being part of a Shared Lives family and community each year, potentially saving councils and health trusts over £500m.
Alex Fox, CEO Shared Lives Plus, the UK’s membership network, says “We are delighted that Shared Lives schemes are proven once again to exceed all other forms of social care – which people need at times when it really matters.
Councils and the NHS need to get serious about growing Shared Lives schemes and recruiting more people to the UK’s invaluable network of 10,000 Shared Lives carers. We recognise that not all areas benefit from strong and successful Shared Lives care and we offer our leading expertise to every local leader who wants to realise their ambitions to invest in this life-changing support.
Today we are celebrating our membership network’s successes of sharing their lives and homes with people for whom our health and social care services are working well – and continue to call on government to invest fairly across the UK to drive out regional health and social inequalities.”
“Social Tourism” is an initiative that seeks to support vulnerable or disadvantaged groups of people to be able to experience breaks away, new activities, and different cultures.
This week in Wales, we at Shared Lives Plus were excited to attend the launch of the Short Breaks and Social Tourism Practice and Research Network in Porthcawl. The Network was launched by Huw Irranca Davies, Minister for Children Older People and Social Care in Wales.
Hosted by the Wales School for Social Care Research and Linc Care, it was a full programme which included presentations from organisations who already provide various forms of social tourism across Wales. During the day we heard from a number of presenters, including STEER, MIRUS, Trinity and Carers Wales who shared the state of caring in Wales statistics with the network. (83% of carers had not had a week off in over a year, 70% suffered mental health)
Social Tourism has been shown to lead to increases in self-esteem, mental health, family relations, social engagement and participation in education and employment. Access to these benefits should be universal, and we were happy to contribute to discussions on a number of issues relating to rethinking social tourism and other forms of respite.
We were asked for responses to questions and key themes from this launch, which will be fed into the four nations knowledge exchange program. Watch this space!
"Health services need to trust in the good reputation Shared Lives has in social care and look at Shared Lives as a positive option for people. We recommend professionals to pick up the phone and talk to the Shared Lives scheme about any potential referrals; these conversations can prove really valuable."
We have been working with schemes all over the UK to explore and develop Shared Lives as a way of helping people who no longer need to be in hospital recover in a safe, comfortable and non-clinical environment. Shared Lives as intermediate care can be a great option for people who are ready to leave hospital, but not quite well enough to go home yet. It can also relieve pressure on our NHS by freeing up space in hospitals.
We are two years into this project, which began in 2016 with funding from The Dunhill Medical Trust and Department of Health Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development (IESD.) We are pleased to share an update on the progress of this work, which has shown that "Shared Lives can work well for people being discharged from hospital, especially where traditional services would be unsuitable."
NHS England have confirmed that free flu vaccinations are available in 2018/19 for Shared Lives carers who play important roles in social care, offering direct care to people using services.
Who is eligible?
Health and social care staff, employed by a registered residential care/nursing home or registered domiciliary care provider, who are directly involved in the care of vulnerable patients/clients who are at increased risk from exposure to influenza. Vulnerable means those patients/clients in a clinical risk group for flu or who are aged 65 years and over.
NHS England have confirmed that this includes staff directly involved in the care of vulnerable people who are at increased risk from exposure to influenza who are working for registered:
• residential care homes;
• residential nursing homes;
• domiciliary care services;
• Shared Lives schemes;
• extra care housing services;
• supported living services.
Where and how can eligible staff get a free vaccination?
Staff can go to their own GP practice or any pharmacy. To prove that they are eligible they will need to take identification with them that shows their names and the name of their employing organisation. This could be an ID card or badge, a letter from their employer, or a recent payslip.
Further information and resources
For more information on the free flu vaccinations for social care staff read the full announcement letter.
Nick Sayers, Ambassador shared what equality and diversity mean to him, at our 2018 conference, with his own poem that he performed in the morning plenary.
"I am an Ambassador, a worker and a volunteer. Being an Ambassador means I sometimes give talks with Alex who is the boss of Shared Lives Plus. Being an Ambassador and being a boss are different jobs but they are both important. I am happy to be different from Alex. We are different but we are equal. He is Alex and I am me. And this is my poem about equality.
I have never wanted to be anyone else
I am far too happy being me
All the things I can do.
If someone says to me
“ You can’t go there Nick”
I just reply
“Then help me find a way”
because I want to
and they do
and I can be
That’s Equality for me."
In this speech from our 2018 conference, James Rosborough, Ambassador explains the effect that being in Shared Lives has had on his independence and his ability to pursue his goals and dreams.
"My names is James.
I have been living in a Shared Lives arrangement with Andy and his family for nearly eight years. Before this I lived in a specialist home for over 20 years.
I now like the freedom I have, to do the things that I enjoy, when I want to do them, just like most other people. I can choose to go out, without telling anyone, and meet friends in my favourite café. I can do most things for myself, but can I get help when I need it. People are not doing things for me all the time and this makes me happy.
I now have my own house and garden, something I never thought would happen to me. I can choose to go to Karate, order a pizza or go to the pub, with or without Andy.
I like feeling a part of things, being a Shared Lives Ambassador, giving talks to help people know more about epilepsy, working with Local Social and visiting lots of new places. I like helping people and they let me do it now. People listen to my opinions and ideas, although I am not always right, this also makes me happy.
Epilepsy does not now stop me from doing anything and my health has improved since being in Shared Lives.
I am very, very proud to be a Shared Lives Ambassador.
In this fantastic speech from our 2018 conference, Michael Turner, Ambassador describes his vision of equality and diversity - which for him is about "having the chance to go to infinity and beyond no matter who you are."
When Lyn asked me if I would talk about equality and diversity at the conference I asked her:
“What are you going on about?”
She had to tell me what she meant. I still didn’t know what she was going on about, so I asked:
“Is it about us Ambassadors then?”
And she said;
So we talked some more and then she told me:
“Just say what it means to you Michael”
So, that is what I will do. Getting equality is about resilience and never giving up.It is about keeping going till the last minute till you reach your destiny, your mission is completed, or you have won.
Diversity is what makes someone special. Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story struggles to come to terms with who he is. For a long time, he pretends that he is a space ranger so much that he really believes he is a space ranger. Then when he finds out he is ‘Just a toy’ he is sad and ashamed of who he is.
Woody, his friend, has a good quality. Woody’s quality is to help Buzz understand and be proud of who he is. He might not be a space ranger, but he is just as good.
He is more than good. He is someone special. In fact, he is a really cool toy.
We are all different, so supporting us means listening and treating us as individuals not all the same. Like, for me, that means having plenty of notice. I get equality at Shared Lives Plus because of the quality of support I get. This helps me to be more confident to be myself and my qualities get better.
Equality is about having the chance to go to infinity and beyond no matter who you are.
Diversity means we don’t all have to be space rangers to do it.
We are all good.
We are all special.
We are all pretty cool, in our own way.
National and local contexts
Shelter described homelessness as affecting 81,000 households during 2013-14, of which 2,414 were people rough sleeping, a rise of 37% since 2010. An ongoing rise in officially estimated rough sleeper numbers remained evident in 2014, with the national total up by 55 per cent since 2010. At 14 per cent, the 2014 country-wide was the largest since 2011 (Homelessness Monitor Report, 2016).
Since bottoming out in 2010/11, homeless placements in temporary accommodation have risen sharply, with the overall national total rising by 12 per cent in the year to 30th June 2015; up by 40 per cent since its low point four years earlier. Although accounting for only eight per cent of the national total, B&B placements rose sharply (23%) in the most recent year. 'Out of district' placements also continue to rise, now accounting for 26 per cent of the national total, up from only 11 per cent in 2010/11. Such placements mainly involve London boroughs.
Homelessness is linked to high levels of crime, mental health issues, substance misuse, high unemployment and high levels of benefits:
As well as issues relating to offending and substance misuse, homelessness also has health implications. Homeless people have poorer health outcomes than the
general population, and an average age of death 30 years below the national average. Living on the streets or without a stable home can make people vulnerable to illness, poor mental health and drug and alcohol problems. Homeless people often seek medical treatment at a later stage during illness, leading to costly secondary health care and worsened health outcomes. This situation is exacerbated by the reduced potential for recovery due to many homeless people returning to insecure accommodation or rough sleeping after medical treatment. In some cases, accommodation may be lost during their time in hospital.
Research carried out in 2010 showed that the total cost of hospital use by homeless people is estimated to be about four times higher than the general population. Looking at inpatient costs alone, the difference is eight times higher among homeless people.
Evidence about what works
A report by the Centre for Health Service Economics & Organisation (CHSEO) in 2011 showed that projects and models which have been implemented to improve admission and discharge practice have demonstrated cost benefits in two different ways:
The first report from the Ministerial Working Group on tackling and preventing homelessness, Vision to end rough sleeping: no second night out nationwide (2011) included a commitment to improve hospital discharge for homeless people. The following year, Homeless Link and St Mungo’s were commissioned by DH to explore how the system of hospital admission and discharge was working for homeless people, and what more needed to be done to improve where the system was failing to discharge homeless people into appropriate accommodation. The report, Improving hospital admission and discharge for people who are homeless, published (May 2012) showed that more than 70% of homeless people had been discharged from hospital back onto the street, without their housing or underlying health problems being address. This was further damaging their health and increasing costs to the NHS through ‘revolving door’ admissions.
Government investment of £10million was announced in May 2013 for the Homeless Hospital Discharge Fund, for voluntary sector organisations, working in partnership with the NHS and local government, to bid for money to improve hospital discharge arrangements for homeless people. Homeless link was commissioned by DH to evaluate these projects focusing on what works in supporting homeless people from being readmitted to hospital (both through emergency and planned admissions) and securing stable housing and support after a hospital stay. The findings identified key features of effective models and practice for future replication including:
Potential outcomes achieved through Shared Lives
A Shared Lives arrangement provides an alternative option for people with a complex profile of support needs including people who are homeless or at risk of
becoming homeless. With its careful matching process, Shared Lives is ideally suited to manage such complexity in an individual way, giving the person living in a Shared Lives arrangement the opportunity to realise their full potential.
This is an area where Shared Lives has the potential to offer a unique combination of accommodation, tailored support and a relationship with a Shared Lives carer and a clear focus on building new networks and communities. This latter point is an important one to stress in terms of breaking the cycle for people coming out of rehab/prison where their networks are all based around their drug using/criminal behaviour etc. Shared Lives gives people an opportunity to build new social networks as well as providing support to look after their health, get and retain paid work and plan for the future.
Stories of lived experience
Dave is a man in his fifties who sustained head injuries inflicted by his father as a child and has experienced a lifetime of mental health difficulties. These have often presented themselves in the form of symptoms of bipolar disorder, which he is not able to recognise and manage himself. Dave has never been able to live fully independently and has spent many years living in various hostels and shelters, where he was seen as “looking like a tramp” and was very vulnerable. He has been living within Shared Lives for nine years in two very successful arrangements. Although it is possible he may never live completely independently, Dave now has a network of positive friendships and relationships and attends the local football club with the son of his previous Shared Lives carer. He dresses smartly and manages his personal care with support, receiving regular medical and dental treatment. When his mental health deteriorates it's noticed and he gets the right support.
Andrew was living in a homeless hostel before being referred to Shared Lives by his Drugs and Alcohol team. He has seizures and was generally in poor health as a result of his alcohol dependency. Within a few months his health, wellbeing and appearance improved. Previously unable to manage his money, he now has support to manage his finances. He now moderates his alcohol intake and he and his Shared Lives carer have become friends.
In this fantastic speech at our 2018 conference, Rita*, a Shared Lives carer, describes her experience of supporting someone who has experienced gender transitions as part of our theme of equality and diversity.
"My name’s Rita, I’m a Shared Lives carer and I live in Kent. I am supported by Bettertogether, the Shared Lives scheme in Newham and Havering, and I support two young adults - Sean* and Josh* who live with me and have given me permission to share some of our experiences with you.
I’d like to share with you examples of what diversity and equality looks like within Shared Lives, in ‘real life'. I’d like you to consider the language we are taught about diversity and equality, and how our attitudes are tested in the real world of Shared Lives care.
Josh is now 20, fostered with me since age eight, and I became a Shared Lives carer when he was 18.
Imagine the scene; a young lad has lived with you since childhood, and is now age 16. You knock and enter his room to find him putting on a lacy black petticoat, you realise it’s yours.
What would your response be?
As you may guess, this happened in my world, four years ago. And often my responses surprise even me. I just said:
“Josh, you know you should ask before borrowing my things……… Supper’s ready”
I closed the door and went back downstairs. We ate and then I asked if he’d like a chat. All the stereotypes came into my mind; transvestite? Cross dresser? Gay? Does he like the feel of lace as part of a sor tof teenage sexual experimentation? Gender identity didn’t even cross my mind.
We chatted and when I asked about his response, he said he didn’t feel at all “awkward”….. but he thought that I did. It transpired he had been secretly wearing a variety of my underwear and clothes for quite a while and had always felt like a girl, since around age 6 yrs. To him my clothes just felt natural.
I will never forget when I said, “that’s ok, if that’s how you feel, I love you as you”. The smile on his face was indescribable - epecially given that he rarely shows emotion.
I asked his permission to seek advice and support him regarding his wish to outwardly portray as female.
Also, a note to self at this time, I have far too many clothes, so many that I didn’t even miss the ones he had stashed away from me!
So thinking about diversity - and I don’t mean Ashley Banjo and the dance group - how do we react to all that we come across in Shared Lives? Think back to the petticoat scenario. I’d like you to notice that I didn’t say to Josh:
“It’s ok with me, I accept your gender choice.”
Society asks us to ‘accept’ people’s differences: "I ‘accept’ your diverse needs, your disability, gender, sexual orientations..."
Personally I feel that this is actually quite patronising to people, who are placed in society as the minority. By the talking of ‘acceptance’ are we not saying that we the majority accept the minority? How condescending of us! Would we say (or think of) Joe Bloggs next door:
"I accept you"?
No! We just do, naturally. That’s how I think of Josh, he just is. In his gender identity journey he became Jenny for a year, back to Josh for a while, then chose to be Jade for about a year.
Currently he is Josh again -watch this space! Because within Shared Lives he has autonomy and empowerment of choice, including the freedom to change his mind. But struggles and faces prejudice from parents and even self in the need to fit in.
This brings me to equality. In all the training I have had over many years, the standard definition of equality in the workplace is to:
"Treat everyone the same regardless (or irrespective) of race, gender, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and age."
For me, to ensure equality you need to be regardful and respective, of everyone, however different they are, because within all of us we have prejudice, we are judgemental and have stereotypical views which are nurtured since birth. If we deny our stereotypical views, change can’t happen. Hands up, I had stereotypical thoughts about the petticoat, (but didn’t show it.)
However, at the beginning when Josh portrayed herself as Jenny, I judged how she should look, behave, even feel like a girl and I voiced these thoughts to her. It was difficult and painful for both of us.
We sought advice at a gender identity clinic and we learnt from them, but mainly, I got immense support from the team at Bettertogether, my Shared Lives scheme in Newham and Havering.
We have been on Josh's journey together, during which he has expressed his feelings about himself through behaviours such as self harm, alcohol, drugs, stealing and seriously pushing other boundaries. That was difficult and painful to support him through too.
Through it all I kept my regard for his disabilities, striving to understand his perspective. In my view, I know instinctively inside he is female. Frustratingly, the gender clinic were quick to judge his “confusion” as being down to his disability, global development delay. They judged his ambivalence as him not having body dysphoria (a criteria for support)and they didn’t recognise his delayed emotional intelligence.
His voice was therefore not taken seriously and somewhat dismissed. The mental health service - the same, they didn’t show any ability to find the ways to communicate with Josh, thus support sessions stopped. It was really frustrating.
What is so great about working with Bettertogether, my Shared Lives scheme, is that Emma, my support officer and Sarah, the manager have a great ability in helping me to sound off, stand back a bit, and reflect. But through it all they believed me and Josh. This relieved my frustrations - they trusted my professionalism. They carried out a Mental Capacity Assessment which confirmed my instincts.
During difficult times with Josh, Sarah Havard, my Shared Lives scheme manager advised:
“You can’t always choose what happens, but you can choose how you react.”
This advice has been so useful for me in many contexts, thank you. When others have failed Josh, when society have judged him, my scheme - Bettertogether, (who may I add have recently been inspected as ‘Outstanding’) have been my go-to rock, my back bone to carry on advocating for Josh. They are my one step removed perspective of what I live 24/7.
To conclude - diversity and equality…whatever ‘label box’ our adults are put into, what’s paramount is that they are human beings and equally part of human kind, let’s not just accept them, let us behold, value, respect and especially learn from them. And on that note, I asked Sean, who’s been with me a year now:
“when explaining our relationship to others, how would he like to refer to me as, your carer or your host?”
His reply was:
Yes I care/support and host but he just wants, and views me to be, his equal. Another human being with whom he shares a home with.
Just a thought: this shows, we are Shared Lives.
*names changed for confidentiality
"I was living in Derby when my relationship got worse and turned more violent. I turned to alcohol as an escape and ended up living on the streets. The police picked me up and took me to hospital. I was in a bad way. After my detox, the mental health team were talking about me returning home and going to a day centre for support. But my ex-partner was still around, so I didn't really want to go home. That was when I first heard about Shared Lives scheme. They were in the meeting and suggested that living with a Shared Lives carer in a nearby area, could be a better option. It sounded safe, and I'd get the support I needed, but I'd still be able to live my own life. But even that wasn't straightforward.
The hospital team said I wouldn't be able to go home, which I agreed with, but they wanted to put me in long term care home. I really didn't want to be put away. The Shared Lives team attended another meeting - a multi-disciplinary team meeting - at the hospital and explained that they could support me to live in a Shared Lives carer’s home, for two or three months.
They would support me to become more confident, look after myself and hopefully, I'd be well enough to return to my own home. I was nervous about living with a family I didn't know, but I met my Shared Lives carers and visited their home. They were lovely. It felt safe and I decided I'd be able to get on with them. It felt like a calm place, but I'd have my own space - they were so supportive.
Shared Lives in Derby were also able to set me up with another Shared Lives carer, who I could go and visit in their home two days a week, which was closer to my own. I got back in the community, going to the shops, and finding local support groups. I'm so glad of Shared Lives support. Without them I wouldn't feel my normal self. Their friendship, sharing their everyday life and support has got me through some tough times and back on my feet."
SafeLives, our partner launched a spotlight on domestic abuse and mental health and homelessness. It shows that 32% of women said that DA contributed to their homelessness. We also know that homeless women with mental ill health are more likely to have slept rough than those without – 76% compared to 54%.
A report from NDTi says that "Shared Lives has the potential to offer a unique combination of accommodation, tailored support and a relationship with a Shared Lives carer and a clear focus on building new networks and communities."
It was uplifting to see so many of you – Shared Lives carers, scheme members, ambassadors and brilliant guest speakers - at our 2018 conference. On Tuesday 2 and Wednesday 3 October, members from all over the UK travelled to Milton Keynes to share experiences, learn new skills and celebrate the thousands of small daily miracles that make up the world of Shared Lives and Homeshare.
The theme of this year’s conference was equality and diversity, an issue which was woven in to several of the keynote speeches and workshops.
For those of you that couldn't make it, and for those who could who would like to recap - you can find all the resources from conference below!
Chair's report - describing the achievements, activities and status of Shared Lives Plus over the last year. Delivered by Martin Ewing on behalf of Richard Jones.
Rita, Shared Lives carer keynote speech on supporting a person experiencing gender transitions
"I've now got my own house and garden - I never thought I would have and it makes me happy" - James Rosbrough, Ambassador
"If someone says to me 'you can't go there Nick' I say 'then help me find a way'" Nick Sayers, Ambassador
“We are all pretty cool in our own way - equality means treating us as individuals and not just the same.” - Michael Turner, Ambassador
Barriers to change: what stops schemes expanding and innovating - exploring what stops us developing new services, including: a round-up of how we might expand and why, presentations from Shared Lives schemes who have expanded to introduce innovative services on what works and what doesn’t, an exploration of the role Shared Lives carers can play, exercises on how barriers might be overcome, including possible perceptions and misperceptions.
Building your reputation - a guide to thinking strategically when planning out communications campaigns for Shared Lives schemes, with a good practice case study from Tameside Shared Lives, whose Shared Lives carer recruitment campaign won a national marketing award. Delivered by Phoebe Rowell and Michael Kazich, Shared Lives Plus communications team, and Adam Lomas, Assistant Team Manager at Tameside Shared Lives
Domestic abuse and Shared Lives - providing a comprehensive background to the issue of domestic abuse in the UK, with statistics from SafeLives, the UK's foremost domestic abuse charity, and an insight into how Shared Lives could support people who have experienced domestic abuse. Delivered by Natalie Blagrove, Shared Lives Plus development officer for domestic abuse and senior adviser at SafeLives knowledge hub.
Employment status of Shared Lives carers and Shared Lives agreements - reporting on the specialist advice Shared Lives Plus sought in order to provide a legal clarification on the employment status of Shared Lives carers and to re-write the existing Shared Lives model agreements. The workshop also explored the link between day to day working practice in Shared Lives schemes and employment status.
Engaging with Self-funders - Looking at barriers and challenges for schemes to support people who pay for themselves, including potential funding pathways. This workshop considered resources and changes in marketing to promote Shared Lives to self-funders, and ways to engage with family and unpaid carers who may be financially supporting people to use Shared Lives. Delivered by Sue Eley, Development manager for England, Shared Lives Plus.
Managing finances in Shared Lives - helping to understand all matters financial for Shared Lives carers and schemes, including hw to manage the benefits of a person in Shared Lives and everyday finances for Shared Lives carers, appointeeships, financial abuse and banking for people who use Shared Lives.
Shared Lives for mental health - drawing on success stories and good practice in the world of Shared Lives supporting people with mental ill health. Delivered by Shared Lives Plus development officers Jenny Evans, (Intermediate Care, ) Ali Hall, (transitions) and Jane Allen (Socially Excluded Adults.)
My wellbeing matters - a guide to maintaining your personal wellbeing, with tips for practising self-care and increasing your emotional resilience -for everyone! Delivered by Emma Cheetham and Rachael Radford, Shared Lives Plus development officers for Shared Lives in health, and Meg Lewis, Shared Lives champion with lievd experience.
Top Tips for recruiting Shared Lives carers - reviewing existing Shared Lives carer recruitment strategies, considering tools and ideas that have been used across the UK to and helping to develop action plans for your scheme. Delivered by Development officers Denise Nygate (care leavers) and Lesley Stevenson (Scotland.)
Safeguarding in Shared Lives - exploring issues around safeguarding in Shared Lives, drawing on legal guidance, the Human Rights Act and real life case studies. Delivered by Emma Clarke and Jenni Kirkham, Shared Lives Plus development team, and Michael Turner, Shared Lives Plus ambassador.
Transforming Care: Shared Lives and complex needs - explores the Transforming Care agenda and the role Shared Lives can play with scenarios mapping out what a positive patient journey from hospital to Shared Lives would look like, and describes how Shared Lives Plus can support local schemes and their CCGs to work together to develop Shared Lives for people with health needs.
Social Media in Shared Lives - A look at social media in the context of Shared Lives – the good, the bad and how it can be used safely and effectively by people involved in Shared Lives arrangements. Delivered by Mark Gallagher, senior support and quality officer, Shared Lives Plus.
How to set up a Shared Lives scheme for the 21st century - thinking about ways in which Shared Lives carers, people who use Shared Lives and their families can themselves develop sustainable Shared Lives services using a Community Interest Company model and consider the things you need to think about throughout this process.
Young people in transition and care leavers - an overview for anyone working with young people and care leavers aged 16-25, presented by Ali Hall, Development officer for young people in transition and Denise Nygate, Development Officer for care leavers
This is a summary of the main discussions during July with combined responses from the Google Group members. If you have any questions or comments
please contact Mark or Cathy:
Newsletters for people who use Shared Lives
Carole from Southampton asked - Do any Shared Lives schemes write newsletters for their people who use Shared Lives? It is something we want to begin to undertake but would like to see if anyone is doing this at present and if so would they mind sharing one with us to give us an idea of what would be good to include?
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus – Thank you to Leeds, Derbyshire and Oxfordshire who kindly shared recent editions of their newsletters with the group. Derbyshire and Leeds’ editions seemed more geared to their Shared Lives carers. It would be possible to have a newsletter that could be sent to Shared Lives households that would be of interest to both Shared Lives carers and people in Shared Lives. Perhaps a poll of your people in Shared Lives to see what they would be interested in reading or learning about would give you a place to start from.
Carole from Southampton asked - Here at Southampton we offer 21 days respite per year for our Shared Lives carers during which time they receive 50% of their pay. Can I ask what respite provision is offered at other Shared Lives schemes, as I am trying to ascertain if this should be increased?
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus – The responses to this query ranged from 14 days at 100% pay, a couple that were also 21 days but with 100% pay, a few that were 28 days at 100% pay to 30 nights at 100% pay. A few Shared Lives schemes said that their Shared Lives carers can also pay privately for additional nights, if required. (This is of course outside of the QCR tax break and the Patrick Towergate public liability insurance protocols).
We also know there are Shared Lives schemes that are able to provide up to 6 weeks of respite (this is usually according to need) and there are Shared Lives schemes that do not provide any respite or if they do, it is not paid. All the responders to this query pay their Shared Lives carers 100% of the care and support fee during respite and the carers would usually continue to receive any Housing Benefit. It appears to vary as to whether the board and lodging fee is continued to the live-in Shared Lives carer or transferred to the respite Shared Lives carer. Ideally Shared Lives carers should receive 28 days (or more if needed) respite per year, whilst still receiving their care and support payment and housing benefit. The board and lodging payment should be transferred to the respite carer to cover those costs incurred by the person in Shared Lives.
Mark, Shared Lives Plus - Thanks to everyone who helpfully responded to Carole’s query about annual respite provision. We are conscious that queries like this can create a lot of extra email traffic for people. We were wondering if Shared Lives Plus doing a survey on everyone’s behalf and then publishing the results would be useful? We are coming at this from the perspective of trying to reduce the amount of email that people get from the Google Group. If you would like a survey going out please let me know direct – it will be short I promise! If people would prefer for things to still go through the Google Group, again please let me know.
Letters for airport officials to take people in Shared Lives abroad
Linda from Rotherham - A few months ago a Shared Lives scheme informed us about an incident at passport control where the Shared Lives carer had to explain their status to the officer regarding the person they were supporting. The suggestion was for Shared Lives carers to have an up to date letter from their local Shared Lives scheme explaining this. Has anyone got such a template letter they would like to share?
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus – Thank you to those who responded to this query and shared their letters. One Shared Lives scheme opted for a generic letter explaining the concept of Shared Lives and that Shared Lives carers are expected to support people to go on holiday. Another Shared Lives scheme wrote a letter with the people’s names and the travel dates, explaining that the Shared Lives carers had the authority to take this person out of the country. One Shared Lives scheme also said that their Shared Lives carers had ID badges so these could be carried and shown as evidence of intent.
A letter, on headed paper, signed by the registered manager, explaining Shared Lives and the role of the Shared Lives carer, with the specifics for the particular person travelling, with contact details for further information, would seem a good idea. This is similar to what people do if they are on a controlled medication or one that is not usually allowed/available in the country they are travelling to.
Old type fuse boxes
Karen from Milton Keynes asked - I have just completed a potential Shared Lives carers’ house Health and Safety check and she has an old fuse box rather than the recommended RCD type. How would other Shared Lives schemes proceed with this? The arrangements that the carer will have are for short breaks, not long-term, live-in arrangements.
Anne from East Lothian asked – I would be interested in being included in replies to this query as I discovered through a recent routine health and safety check that one of our long term Shared Lives carers still has the old type fuse box.
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus – First of all, what the Shared Lives carer needs to do in regard to electrical safety depends on whether they are a tenant or a homeowner. If they are a tenant, then it is their landlord’s responsibility. If they are the homeowner then they are the landlord and are responsible for the electrical safety in the home. The Landlord should carry out a regular basic visual safety check of the electrical installations to ensure that these are safe. This should detect broken items such as sockets and light switches or signs of scorching around the sockets due to overloading or damaged cables etc. The Landlord legal requirements recommend inspections of electrical installations every 10 years by a qualified electrician. The Electrical Safety Council now recommends for rented accommodation that period inspections/tests by a qualified electrician are carried out at least every 5 years or on a change of tenancy. RCDs/trip switches are legally required in newer properties or when an electrical installation is changed/updated but can still be seen in older properties. The risk of electric shock to the people in Shared Lives should be assessed where there is an older fuse box. RCD units can be used in specific risk areas such as in the bathroom or outside, as an alternative to updating the whole system but this should be discussed with a qualified electrician. So if a qualified electrician has checked the electrical installation and deemed the current fuse box as safe and the Shared Lives carer can show evidence of this visit, this should suffice.
Shared Lives carers working in other boroughs
Sacha from Greenwich asked - Has anyone had a situation where they have employed someone who was a former Shared Lives carer, but is now I guess a secondary Shared Lives carer but still lives with one of the current Shared Lives carers on a scheme, but in a different borough? Has this been problematic? Has there been a conflict of interest at all?
Karen from Blackburn said - We have not experienced this, however, we have received an application from a current Shared Lives carer to join the team as a Shared Lives support officer. Has anyone else had a situation like this and were there any issues?
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus – Our guidance 2.21 Protocols and Agreements for Sharing Shared Lives carers between schemes covers this in detail. In instances where Shared Lives carers are approved with more than one Shared Lives scheme it is important that the Shared Lives carer understands who their contact is with each scheme, what their processes are and any differences i.e. levels of payment or short break entitlement. When two Shared Lives schemes are involved the key to making it all work is effective communication, the two Shared Lives schemes having an effective working relationship with each other and the Shared Lives carer.
Regarding a Shared Lives carer becoming an officer, I think each situation needs to be looked individually, as I think in some schemes it would work well and in others it wouldn’t. There are contributing factors such who they care for, how much Shared Lives care vs how much scheme work they do, who would supervise them as an officer, confidentiality etc. I have had personal experience of this situation and for us as a Shared Lives scheme, it worked really well. It was a temporary arrangement originally but became permanent and mostly the Shared Lives carer provided care for another scheme, which I think helped. The experience they brought as a long time Shared Lives carer was useful and insightful for the team and there was rarely any potential for conflict of interest.
Continuing Health Care funding and Personal Health Budgets
Ed from Stockport said - Has anyone had experience of a Learning Disability case transferring to Continuing Health Care funding and any ensuing issues? Has anyone had experience of a Personal Health Care Budget that the Shared Lives Scheme has managed to commission?
Mark, Shared Lives Plus – Thanks for anyone who responded to Ed on this question.
People in Shared Lives sharing a room
Daniel from London asked - Does anyone know of any policy around people sharing bedrooms in Shared Lives? It is not something we would usually consider but we have two young people who are currently with a foster family who are twin sisters. They want to remain with their foster carer but they are currently sharing a room and the foster carer has been unable to obtain a larger property which was the initial plan. The social worker is still keen for us to continue with the assessment.
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus - As you say, we would usually say that it is important that each person has their own space in a room of their own. However, these sisters have obviously shared a room for a while, possibly most of their lives and this is a consideration, as is the fact that they are twins. I presume someone has asked them how they feel about sharing a room? Just because they are twins, does not mean they are happy sharing a room! It is currently tied into staying with their foster carer, so it is complex, as it means a major move and change if they say they don’t want to share. Ultimately, what it boils down to is, is this the best place for them to live, even if they are sharing a room? If they move to another Shared Lives household, will they ultimately be better off, given the upheaval involved? What is the prospect for the foster carer gaining a larger house in the future? How realistic is this? Is it worth hanging on for?
When I worked in a Shared Lives scheme, we had a situation where brothers were sharing, one wished for a room of their one and the other did not. The older agreed to stay sharing for the immediate future, as his brother was so upset by the prospect. When the younger one was 18 and he also joined Shared Lives, it was agreed it was now time to have separate rooms, as they were both adults.
We had a another case where a couple of best friends insisted on sharing during short breaks, even though other arrangements were available but this was all part of the fun and experience for them, as far as they were concerned.
It comes down to choice and best interest in the end and the young ladies should be at the centre of this decision.
Mark, Shared Lives Plus – In addition to the points made by Cathy regarding basing the decision around what the sisters want there are a few other things to consider here. It will be important to carry out some life planning with the sisters to see what they want to do longer term, and this could be a good opportunity to start having those conversations. Whilst they may want to share a room now, and have done for many years, they won’t do indefinitely. The other thing to consider here is that only one lot of housing benefit will be awarded to the sisters as they are sharing a room, which means the Shared Lives carer will receive less rent. This shortfall in rent will either need to be met elsewhere i.e. through care management, the sisters themselves, or the Shared Lives carer only receive a single rent payment.
Difficulties with mortgage providers imposing restrictions on Shared Lives carers
Karen from Surrey asked - Has anyone had issues where mortgage providers have imposed restrictive conditions on potential Shared Lives carers e.g. arrangements of no longer than 12 months? Were you able to get them to change their conditions and if so how?
Phoebe, Shared Lives Plus - Don’t forget as Members of Shared Lives Plus, you have access to the advice of a Mortgage company who specifically understands Shared Lives carers’ income status and roles. I’d advise any Shared Lives carers in this situation to become a Member and get access to a wide variety of legal, technical and tax advice that are specific to their roles. https://sharedlivesplus.org.uk/home/become-a-member
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus – In my experience, stipulated conditions arise from a lack of understanding about Shared Lives and what it means and entails. If you can send some information or better still have a conversation with the right person, it can really improve the situation. Failing that, if the person is not yet a Shared Lives carer and therefore not a member, you, as the Shared Lives scheme member can access the legal helpline on their behalf. Use the contact details above to find out more and see if they can help in this situation.
Maximum numbers when a household has both Shared Lives and Fostering arrangements
Nigel from Huddersfield asked - Can anyone please signpost me to the SL+ guidance and any other known guidance etc. regarding the maximum number of Shared Lives Arrangements and/or Foster Placements combined that a Shared Lives family/household should provide?
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus – Our Guidance documents ‘Defining Shared Lives’ and ‘Transition and mixed child/Shared Lives arrangements’ were shared on the forum.
It is possible that there could be a household consisting of 3 foster children and 3 Shared Lives adults and this would not be against any regulations. Each family is different but that would challenge most Shared Lives carers/families, with house size often restricting the number of people supported, before the skills/capabilities of the Shared Lives carers. If it becomes apparent that this situation may occur then a conversation with the fostering team would help, as this could pose a risk for all involved and should be identified and discussed. The carers do not have to accept additional fostering or Shared Lives arrangements but may feel they should or want to and then take on more than they can manage, through wanting to help. So frank and open discussions between all involved may be helpful there too. Relevant assessments of risks should be carried out to cover emergency situations, respite, holidays etc. that may affect the Shared Lives adults.
CQC does not prescribe an actual ratio of staff to people supported, however, the premise is that providers should risk assess the situation and show that they have assessed how many staff they need to provide the regulated activity. Staffing levels and skill mix must be reviewed continuously and adapted to respond to the changing needs and circumstances of people using the service. Please see: the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014: Regulation 18, Staffing by clicking http://www.cqc.org.uk/content/regulation-18-staffing The intention of this regulation is to make sure that providers deploy enough suitably qualified, competent and experienced staff to meet the needs of the people using the service, at all times, to enable them to meet regulatory requirements.
Local authority registers of people with a Learning Disability
Catherine from Bexley asked - For those of you working with people with a Learning Disability (LD). You may recall Local Authorities (LAs) held a register of those adults with a LD diagnosis. Here in Bexley it is my admin who has responsibility for the updating of this. My enquiry is do LA’s still hold a register for LD and is this even allowed under GDPR? I personally feel that all information is on our data system anyway, so a separate register not required. Any help/advice appreciated.
Mark, Shared Lives Plus – Thanks for any schemes who came back to Catherine on this issue. I suspect that each local authority will do something slightly different here. Regarding the GDPR requirements it would depend on how the information was obtained, what information is held and whether the individuals concerned have provided consent to their data being held. Details of the core principles of GDPR are available at https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/principles/
Training for Shared Lives officers
Lowri from Wales asked - What training do officers of the Shared Lives scheme undertake to be qualified to assess new Shared Lives carers?
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus – Thank you to anyone who responded to Lowri. At Shared Lives Plus, we are able to provide training for workers in areas such as assessment and approval. Mark delivered a day of assessment training in Scotland and all the schemes contributed to the cost of the training which kept the price reasonable. Training for Shared Lives schemes is something we are looking at developing, so please get in touch if you have suggestions of training you would like us to provide and you would consider purchasing.
Social Media Policy
Sacha from Greenwich asked - Does anyone have a policy they could share around social media use and safety? I am thinking about situations where a person in Shared Lives might be being manipulated or bullied online?
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus - This is something Mark at Shared Lives Plus has been working on recently. However, due to the Universal Credit issues and other pressing matters, it has taken a bit of a back seat just now but it is in the pipeline again. He will also be running a workshop on it at the Shared Lives National Conference in October.
Enhanced DBS checks for Shared Lives carers
Katie from Oldham asked – Just thought I’d see if any other Shared Lives schemes have experienced issues re enhanced DBSs for Shared Lives carers? We have always submitted enhanced DBS applications for Shared Lives carers, as we are conscious that Shared Lives carers may come into contact with children and young people while carrying out their caring role. Over the past few months we have had several applications returned to us with a request for information re the role and the responsibilities of Shared Lives carers which we have of course provided; however the applications have been declined at the Police check stage, as DBS have fed back that the Police don’t recognise Shared Lives carers as needing enhanced clearance, as predominantly they support adults. This as you can imagine is causing us real problems as DBS renewals are due. I wondered if anyone else had come across this before and/or can advise on a way forward?
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus - Enhanced DBS checks can be carried out on people who work both with adults and children, as the check is needed due to the person’s vulnerability, not their age. Shared Lives carers are eligible for enhanced DBS checks.
The box on the back of the form that asks whether a carer is working with adults and children, should only be checked if your Shared Lives scheme supports people from 16, as they are still classed as children. You are entitled to check the box about working from home and this means the police will check all members of the household.