• How much is it to Join? +

    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 simply email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details.

  • How do I join as a carer? +

    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.

  • What should I expect as a member? +

    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.

  • How do I pay? +

    You can pay via cheque, bank card and credit card.
  • 1


Questions and Answers

The LGA Green paper on the future of adult soial care is out to consultation until 26th September. The link below will enable to you respond as individuals. Shared Lives Plus will be responding on behalf of the Shared Live and Homeshare sector. We want to make sure we capture all of our members views and this will be the subject of our next national teleconference. If any of you would like to contribute your views seperately please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Alison and JonathanA national report which we released earlier this month, describes Shared Lives as having the potential to transform health and social care which is currently at ‘breaking point’ according to the LGA last week.

Our report says without local and regional leadership, a postcode lottery will deny the extraordinary benefits of an ordinary home, family and community life to people who need it most.

Shared Lives is where a person who needs support moves in with or visits an approved Shared Lives carer. Together they share ordinary home, family and community life, helping to enrich the community they live in. It’s a formal social care alternative to care homes and traditional care at home.

This year’s report shows that thousands of people continue to experience better quality of life by visiting or living with a Shared Lives carer. It also reveals that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has again rated Shared Lives as the best-performing type of social care. 92% of all Shared Lives schemes were rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ and none rated as ‘inadequate.’ 5% of care was rated as ‘outstanding’ compared to an average 2% in other forms of social care provision.

The report demonstrates that where Shared Lives is understood and supported by local leaders, it is adapting quickly to the growing demands of our ageing population in which, by 2020, three million of us will have three or more long term conditions. In the last year, there has been a 24% increase in the number of older people who are supported by a Shared Lives carer. This rate of growth means that over 1000 older people could be supported in three years’ time. 

But the research also demonstrates that access to Shared Lives is a postcode lottery and is not offered fairly across the country. There are disparities between areas which recognise the huge potential of Shared Lives and have invested in its growth, and other areas which are falling behind. In the South West, South East, West Midlands and East of England 320 people more were supported than last year.

Yet in London, and the North West, there were 300 fewer people being supported.

Another concerning trend is the loss of the equivalent of 70 full time local Shared Lives scheme workers since 2012-13. At the same time, this diminished workforce is having to do more. If staffing levels returned to 2012/13 levels, an additional 1,750 people could be supported.

The report calls for leaders to reverse regional inequalities. 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, with extraordinary health and wellbeing outcomes, such as feeling a sense of belonging, better health and lower reliance on medication, making friends, or sustaining volunteering or employment roles. Research has shown that Shared Lives saves on average £26,000 for each person per year for people with learning disabilities (43% cheaper than more traditional forms of homecare or residential care) and £8,000 for people with mental health needs (28% cheaper.)

Alex Fox, Shared Lives Plus CEO said:
“Shared Lives offers an incredible opportunity to create more humane, person-centred health and social care for people stuck inside the current system. It offers a sustainable social return on investment, at a time when social care funding per adult has fallen 13.5% since 2010.
“But investment is essential. Fewer people are experiencing the extraordinary benefits of Shared Lives than they could. We have three main aims over the next year:
• To call on government to invest in a major awareness raising campaign so that they can realise the proven benefits and savings of Shared Lives.
• To call on commissioners and local Shared Lives schemes to take strategic action to recruit staff and Shared Lives carers.
• To campaign for Shared Lives carers to be treated fairly when the pay of other social care staff is considered locally.
Localised growth evident in this report shows that Shared Lives is scalable and offers extraordinary benefits. It has the potential to transform many thousands of people’s lives through its proven combination of ordinary homes, careful matching driven by personal choice and connection into the wider community.”

Notes to editors
• Shared Lives Plus is the UK network for Shared Lives carers, Shared Lives schemes and Homeshare schemes. With over 5,000 Members UK-wide, we have a unique overview and voice which we use to support schemes and Shared Lives carers through policy, guidance, advice and legal support. We also work to diversify and establish new Shared Lives and Homeshare schemes. www.sharedlivesplus.org.uk
• In Shared Lives, a young person or adult who needs support is matched with a carefully approved Shared Lives carer, by their local Shared Lives scheme. Together, they share family and community life.
• Half of the 14,000 people using Shared Lives move in with their chosen Shared Lives carer to live as part of their household; half visit for day support or overnight breaks. People get safe, personal care and support, in a place which feels like home. They make friends and become more active.
• There are 10,000 Shared Lives carers. All are approved following rigorous recruitment and training by one of the UK’s 150 regulated local schemes.
• The Care Quality Commission rates Shared Lives as better than all other forms of social care.
• On average £26,000 a year lower cost per person for people with learning disabilities and £8,000 lower for people with mental ill health.

For more information or interviews, contact
Michael Kazich, Communications Officer, 07391 418 531 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

On a balmy evening in March 2018, Keith was gazing over a stunning Sri Lankan landscape: the realisation of a life ambition. Keith was born there, descended from a long line of tea planters, but his family returned to the UK sixty years ago when he was just two. He always had a longing to retrace his roots, but as he got older and his life became more restricted, it looked increasingly unrealistic.

Lorraine Keith Sri Lanka 1 web

When Keith was just seventeen his younger brother Neil, aged fifteen, died from a severe brain injury having being knocked down by an intoxicated driver. The incident was devastating for the family, who struggled to cope. It was difficult for Keith to access the support he needed for his learning difficulties. When Keith was in his fifties his Father became seriously ill and was hospitalised. Soon after, his Mother had a bad fall and broke her femur which also resulted in a prolonged hospital stay.It was a very unsettling time for him as he was unable to manage living alone, but through an intervention by social services Keith entered into the Shared Lives matching process in 2004.

Elsewhere in West Sussex, Loraine Muir was ready for a change in life. Her long career in children’s services had started in 1969 and given her much satisfaction. But the times were changing as crippling financial cuts were ushered in. The strain of having to provide far more with far less began to take its toll on Loraine, who felt that she had done as much as she could in this particular area of social care.

She needed a new direction, but although she didn’t know where to find it s he was sure of one thing - she wasn’t ready to sit twiddling her thumbs just yet! Loraine had heard of Shared Lives from a colleague whilst she was still working in children’s services and thought it was a great approach to care, although at the time she didn’t think of it in relation to herself. It was a while later when she was considering what to do next that the idea kept tugging away at her brain. She had a lovely home to share, a wealth of experience that she didn’t want to waste - and a continued desire to make a difference.

It became clear that becoming a Shared Lives carer was the next chapter in her own story. After applying and completing the rigorous recruitment process, Loraine was matched with Keith, and today Loraine considers it the perfect match. 

In the early days Keith came to Loraine for respite longbefore his parents were both hospitalised. He stayed full time with her when both parents were incapacitated and returned home for a few days a week when they had recuperated. Loraine began to develop an understanding of the family dynamic which had made it difficult for Keith to access the services he needed, and she began to advocate on his behalf. Keith is blind in one eye, and although he hasn’t been diagnosed Loraine feels that he demonstrates 

traits of autism. He can become very agitated when a routine is broken, which can be exacerbated by his difficulties communicating.

When Keith’s father died nine years ago Loraine’s involvement increased as his elderly Mother was less able to cope. Sadly, she too passed away over two years ago, but by now Keith had been living with Loraine for long periods of time which helped him with her passing. Loraine ensured that Keith was very involved in the plans for his Mother’s funeral, something which she felt was important for him. He chose headstones for her, his Father and Brother and made many of the decisions about the proceedings, which helped him to come to terms with his loss.

It’s taken time, but as they’ve now known each other for fourteen years Loraine feels that she understands Keith’s needs.

Lorraine Keith Sri Lanka 5 web


"He’s very easy to be with, and I’m totally comfortable with us sharing our lives. I suppose I look upon him as a younger sibling, although I’m always mindful of professional boundaries too, when needs be.”

She said: “I feel that I know him well and if I explain plans far in advance, it reduces his stress.

Since living with Loraine Keith’s life has flourished, and he has been able to establish and develop his own identity. He had worked for a supermarket as a trolle

y assistant for many years when he first moved in with Loraine, but she felt that this was making him miserable, especially in the winter months. He has an unsteady gait due to extremely high arches and needs regular chiropody treatment. The job was manual and physically demanding as he was not confident enough to use the battery operated trolley assistance.

It was a job that his Mother had insisted he must do, and he felt powerless when it came to having a say about it. But when Loraine asked hi

m if he wanted to resign the position he was quick to say yes. Since then he has developed skills and knowledge in totally new areas: recycling wood, wood-working and gardening. This change of activity has had a liberating effect on Keith.

In the last few years he has become much more relaxed and sociable. He regularly golfs with two other Shared Lives carers, and Loraine struggles to keep up with his circle of friends at the pub in the village where he grew up, and where he continues to enjoy liquid refreshment every Sunday. Loraine has no doubt about the value of Shared Lives, although she feels that the benefits and rewards are not always immediately apparent. Through Keith her own Grandchildren are developing the awareness to speak up for the vulnerable, and an understanding that everyone – no matter their impairment - has potential.

Lorraine Keith Sri Lanka 3 webLoraine said: “Shared Lives demonstrates an excellent model of care and they are a very committed group of people.

People with learning difficulties really don’t want to stand out as being different; they want to take part in society like the rest of us. That’s always the aim of Shared 

Keith and Loraine demonstrate how both sides of a Shared Lives relationship benefit. Keith gets the support he needs to be the best he can be, and as Loraine says, she can carry on making a living while making a big difference to someone else’s life. Lives.”

Due to Keith’s Sri Lankan heritage, he didn’t have all the documentation for his first British passport and so organising the paperwork to enable the trip required a lot of leg work from Loraine and an introduction to genealogy. But it was worth it! To see the joy and happiness that being back in his country of birth brought him was very special. Loraine called it “a real privilege” to be able to enable and share that with him too, a memory that she will always cherish.

She added: “I am very lucky to have Keith in my life, but then as my Daughter said, Keith’s lucky to have you too Mum!”


Every year in the UK, more than two million people experience domestic abuse. No two of these experiences are the same, and not all survivors want or need the same response to feel safe. For someone who has lived in fear, the journey back to a happy and independent life can be complex. A safe place to live is a vital step in that journey - but at the moment it is far too hard to come by.

To stop the cycle of abuse, we need housing models that offer long term support so that survivors can rebuild and recover fully, and feel like part of a supportive community. That’s why domestic abuse charity SafeLives and carer network Shared Lives Plus are working together to develop and test a new way of providing accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse. The pilot will run in three Shared Lives schemes in Shropshire, Lewisham and Buckinghamshire. If successful, the scheme will be rolled out nationally.

In Shared Lives schemes, an adult who needs support or a place to live moves in with or regularly visits an approved Shared Lives carer, after they have got to know each other and the local Shared Lives scheme has matched them for compatibility. Together, they share family and community life. With input from survivors, and SafeLives providing practical expertise, this model is being adapted to support domestic abuse survivors.

SafeLives data shows that more than half of victims of domestic abuse need support to stay safely in their own home or move to new accommodation. Of those who access refuge services, 87% eventually move onto continued temporary accommodation (Women’s Aid data). This leaves too many survivors in a precarious position, without the security and stability they need to feel safe.

Suzanne Jacob OBE, Chief Executive of SafeLives, said:

"When it comes to housing, survivors have limited options – we believe everyone experiencing domestic abuse deserves better than this. We hope Shared Lives schemes will provide a further safe and secure environment for survivors to recover from the abuse, regain confidence and rebuild their lives.

‘Of course, the responsibility for domestic abuse always belongs with the perpetrator, who must be challenged and held to account. In an ideal world no one would have to leave their home because of domestic abuse, but it’s clear that we need to provide a range of safe and supportive options for those who do. This should be as well as, not instead of, existing options."

Alex Fox, Chief Executive of Shared Lives Plus, said:

"Shared Lives carers across the UK offer safe, supportive homes where people can build their confidence and independence. Shared Lives is already used by 14,000 people, but only a small number of people who have experienced domestic abuse.

We have seen how building healthy relationships and getting practical support from a carefully chosen and trained Shared Lives carer has enabled women fleeing domestic abuse to rebuild their lives at their own pace, with the support of a household who are with them for the long haul. We are very excited to be working with SafeLives to develop this model more widely, including for women with learning disabilities, mental ill health and other support needs who have experienced domestic abuse."

Read Natalie Blagrove's blog - 'Developing a supportive housing model for survivors of domestic abuse'


SafeLives is a UK wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We combine insight from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives. Last year over 60,000 adults and more than 100,000 children received support from interventions pioneered by SafeLives and our partners.

No one should live in fear. It is not acceptable, not inevitable, and together – we can make it stop. If you would like to read more about SafeLives’ work on housing for domestic abuse survivors and their families, please read our recent Spotlight on homelessness and domestic abuse.

Shared Lives Plus
We are the UK network for Shared Lives carers, Shared Lives schemes and Homeshare schemes. With over 5,000 Members UK-wide, we have a unique overview and voice which we use to support schemes and Shared Lives carers through policy, guidance, advice and legal support. We also work to diversify and establish new Shared Lives and Homeshare schemes. www.sharedlivesplus.org.uk

This project is made possible by a grant from the government’s Tampon Tax fund.


Ruth Davies, SafeLives Communications Officer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Natalie Blagrove croppedNatalie Blagrove is a Senior Knowledge Hub Advisor at SafeLives. For the last six months she's been seconded to work with us on a new pilot to develop and test supportive housing options for survivors of domestic abuse.

I recently wrote about the domestic abuse project; six months on I thought it was time for an update. It’s been busy, with some real highlights as well as some challenges.

The good stuff

Supported by the local domestic abuse services, I visited two of the pilot sites to hold survivor consultations. It’s so important to get the thoughts, ideas and opinions of people with lived experience and it’s something that both Shared Lives Plus and SafeLives feel is crucial to any successful project. I have to say, I was a little nervous about presenting this idea to survivors. Would they like it, would they think it was rubbish? Fortunately, the vast majority of the women I spoke to saw a place for Shared Lives; a safe place to live with a carefully matched and approved Shared Lives carer in the carer’s home.

Read the full blog

Thursday, 02 August 2018 10:06

State of Shared Lives in England 2016-17

Alison and JonathanWe are pleased to share the State of Shared Lives in England 2016-17 - a comprehensive report about the Shared Lives sector in England. The data in this report, and the analysis we've drawn from it shows us that Shared Lives is holding its own in the face of some serious challenges in the wider social care sector. In many places Shared Lives is going strong, growing, and supporting more people with different types of needs to live well. The report also shows us, however, that in some areas Shared Lives has diminished due to the significant pressures in the adult social care landscape. Above all, the document serves as a timely reminder of the vital importance of growing Shared Lives in the project to create a more human, person-centred and sustainable health and social care system.

pdfState of Shared Lives in England 2016-17


Right now in Wales we are going through the final stages of one of the biggest shake-ups of regulation in decades. If you are a Shared Lives carer or someone using the service you can have your say on not just what goes into regulation, but how the people that inspect our services apply those regulations. But the closing date is approaching fast. Welsh Government want to hear your views by August 16th.

A copy of the consultation document, the draft regulations and statutory guidance can be found at:



To take part in the consultation and give your feedback, you can respond online.

It’s been almost two years now that we’ve been working with Welsh Government on changing the regulations that guide our services. One of the biggest steps forward is Welsh Government’s decision to ask people if they want our services extended to 16 & 17-year-olds. In the UK, Wales is alone in restricting provision to that age group. We know from colleagues in children’s services, especially those working to combat homelessness, that extending the service will make a real difference. It will provide more choice and flexibility.

Please do take time now to look through the Statutory Guidance and the new Regulations. Shared Lives Plus UK has already written extensively about the need to reflect the modern service. The regulations are still known as adult placement, but most services use the term Shared Lives. The regulation refers to “placing”, where we talk about matching. It describes a placement, where we would talk about an arrangement. If you feel strongly about providing a service which gives people choice and control, do let Welsh Government know what you think about the language used in the act and the need to reflect the service accurately.

The new regulations will come into force from April 2019, replacing the Care Standards Act and the Minimum Standards. The aim of the new regulations is to reflect the Social Services & Well-being (Wales) Act by giving people genuine voice and control and putting their well-being, views and feelings at the heart of service delivery.

The regulations aim to be:

• Proportionate and reasonable - covering things the provider can control that will genuinely contribute to the quality and safety of the service

• Consistent – but flexible enough to allow for specific differences between services, where appropriate

• Outcomes focussed – so the adults and children using the services are fully supported to achieve the things that matter to them

• Enforceable – providing clarity and certainly to all those involved

These changes are a move away from a culture of tick box compliance.

The new regulations aim to recognise the professional competence and judgement of providers and gives them a high-level of flexibility to run efficient, innovative services. As a Shared Lives carer you may not see too many changes in the way things work day to day, but there are differences in the way the regulations work.

In future schemes will have to produce a much more comprehensive Statement of Purpose, detailing the services they provide and their policies and procedures around things like complaints, safeguarding etc. The regulations also impose a duty of candour on all service providers to acknowledge and address issues when something goes wrong.

For the Shared Lives carer there will be three key documents:

  • a Carer agreement – between the scheme and the Shared Lives carer setting out the agreement to provide accommodation and support in their home for someone who needs care to live independently. This will be put in place once the Shared Lives carer has passed panel and is ready to begin work.
  • an Individual Placement Agreement – between the scheme, Shared Lives carer and the person seeking support agreeing to enter into a Shared Lives arrangement
  • a Personal Plan for each person using the service – setting out the outcomes that the person seeking support wishes to achieve with the support of the scheme and the Shared Lives carer.

Do read through the changes, link below. This is your consultation and your views are of great value:


Closing date August 16th


HendersonsWe are encouraging all Shared Lives carers, schemes and any one with experience of care to take part in a major national consultation by the Local Government Association into how to pay for adult social care and support for older people, working age adults with mental or physical disabilities and unpaid carers.

The LGA estimates that adult social care services face an annual funding gap of £3.5 billion by 2025.

Years of significant underfunding of councils, alongside rising demand and costs for care and support has pushed adult social care services to breaking point.

More and more people are unable to receive good, reliable care, such as help with getting washed and dressed, and funding is increasingly having to be diverted from other vital council services, such as parks, leisure centres and libraries, to plug growing adult social care funding gaps.

Alex Fox, CEO, Shared Lives Plus, says “Local government and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector share a vision for social care which helps us all to live good lives in our own homes with the people we love. Immediate investment is needed to stabilise social care. Then councils and the VCSE sector must work with people who need support and their community organisations to co-design a social care system which intervenes early, sees the whole person and can stay with people and families for the long haul. Human, effective and sustainable approaches already exist: great councils have been pioneering their development. Now they must be scaled up and become the norm.”

The LGA’s eight-week consultation is open to all members of the public – regardless of whether they are directly affected by or receive adult social care and support – and community groups. The findings will be used to help influence the Government’s own green paper and its spending plans.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:

“Finding a long-term funding solution for adult social care and support has been kicked into the long grass by successive governments for the past two decades and has brought these services to breaking point.

“Our green paper is the start of a nationwide public debate about the future of care for all adults and we encourage as many people and organisations to have their say on how we pay for it and the responsibilities of national government, local councils, citizens, families and communities.”

The LGA’s green paper consultation is available here. The consultation closes on 26 September. Possible solutions to paying for adult social care in the long-term outlined in the consultation include: 

  • Increasing income tax for taxpayers of all ages – a 1p rise on the basic rate could raise £4.4 billion in 2024/25
  • Increasing national insurance – a 1p rise could raise £10.4 billion in 2024/25
  • A Social Care Premium - this would be a contribution, such as an addition to National Insurance or another mechanism, paid by employers and people over 40, including over 65s. If it was assumed everyone over 40 was able to pay the same amount (not the case under National Insurance), raising £1 billion would mean a cost of £33.40 for each person aged 40+ in 2024/25. This is a purely illustrative figure and would not be the cost to individuals if the premium was attached to National Insurance given that a person’s employment status and/or how much they earn determines the amount they contribute to National Insurance.
  • Means testing universal benefits, such as winter fuel allowance and free TV licences, could raise £1.9 billion in 2024/25
  • Allowing councils to increase council tax – a 1 per cent rise would generate £285 million in 2024/25

Sharisse Richards, John Dempsey and Paul Hart share their lives together in their Birmingham home. Their shared life shows that families can come in all different shapes and sizes – and that the right mixture of personalities lead to rich and vibrant home. Sharisse, Shared Lives carer supported John, first, who had previously lived with, and depended on, his parents for all of his life:

Sharisse John and Paul“It’s every loving parent’s nightmare isn’t it? You have given your son your very best but, aware of your own advancing years, you’re now worrying about his future security. What would you do? That was the horrible position that John’s parents were in. They’d given him a wonderful, loving home for 59 years, but realistically they knew they needed to find another alternative for all of their sakes, but they didn’t know if it existed.

“John has non - verbal autism and requires fulltime support with his daily life. So, when they were introduced to the Birmingham Shared Lives scheme who matched John with me, I think it was a massive relief. For my part, I came into Shared Lives really wanting to do it well - becoming a Shared Lives carer has a special meaning for me. My own brother had needs which were just not properly understood, and he spent years in social care which I feel very much narrowed his choices. I wanted to do something which opened people’s horizons.

“It was interesting: as soon as John and I met I knew that we could make this work. We just clicked, straight away. We had a few meetings, and then he stayed for a couple of weekends, and we’ve lived together ever since.

“At first John’s parents struggled to get used to living apart from him after them sharing their lives for so long. But now they pop in for a cuppa and he spends some weekends with them too. I’m forever sending them photos of where we’ve been or what we’ve been doing with the day. It’s a lovely arrangement. In fact, on John’s mum’s birthday I cooked Sunday lunch and we all spent the day here together. We communicate regularly and I know that, they are very reassured that he is in a happy and safe home. John feels like a brother really.”

With John having become a settled part of Sharisse’s family life after several months, she began to support another person – with quite a different personality and situation:

“Paul moved in with us, on an emergency basis in March 2011. Paul was living in Aston, Birmingham in supported living accommodation. He’s held down a fulltime job at a Red Cross shop for years, which he loves, but he suffers with anxiety and mental health related problems.

“He was finding it increasingly difficult to cope at home, and his finances were getting into a mess which added to his anxiety. Supported living just wasn’t working out for him. When he first moved in with us, he did find it hard. It takes some people time to adjust, whereas others – like John – seem to settle quite quickly.

“But everyone’s an individual, and Paul is a different sort of character, so we gave him the time. He’s slowly opening up and we’re getting to know each other. He said recently that when he first came everything felt new and strange, but every day he seems a bit more settled. We all get on well.

John Paul“I think it’s about the right combination of characters, not so much having the same kind of characters, and that’s why the matching process is important. It’s finding the right chemistry.

“There are times when being a Shared Lives carer can be intense. It’s like anything, you have to learn and develop your experience but that only comes by actually doing it. For me, the only bit I find difficult is dealing with the benefit system and liaising with the government departments, to make sure that they each get their rights acknowledged. That can be frustrating.

“I appreciate the support of our local scheme and other Shared Lives carers, particularly Diane who is a good friend of mine and a very experienced Shared Lives carer. She supports Bradley who at 19 is a lot younger than Paul and John, but he comes to spend time with us and enjoys days out with the guys. It’s about personalities rather than ages I find. We have a nice social life that we all share, including other carers and their families. We make friends.

“The friendship with Diane has meant a lot. She understands it completely and in the early days, when I had the odd wobble, she encouraged me to believe in my own ability to do this well.

“I really think John and Paul would have had such a different life if Shared Lives had been available to them. That’s what Shared Lives does, it provides people with choices and a more fulfilled life.

“It’s a great thing to do and I love being able to give something back and feel as though I’m making a difference. It makes it worth it. Our house is a vibrant home. We get on each other’s nerves at times, just like any other family, and there are chores to be done and a routine to be followed, but we also have a lot of fun and laughter too.”

Page 5 of 31

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