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Durham Shared Lives – Debbie’s Story

Losing her parents left Debbie feeling vulnerable and scared. Coping with such a loss would be difficult for anyone, but for Debbie who has a learning disability, it was particularly hard.

The 38-year-old was unable to live on her own and desperately needed support to deal with the changes in her life. After careful consideration and discussion, it was felt that a Shared Lives Placement would best meet her needs.

Shared Lives ‘Providers’ open their home and family life to an adult or young person who needs care or support to help them live well. By placing individuals in family homes, the scheme is able to provide people with a safe environment, protect their rights and independence and give them the opportunity to develop life skills.

Placements can be, short-term, long-term or emergency basis. There are currently 53 Shared Lives Providers in County Durham, including Colin and June, who welcomed Debbie into their home and family in 2016.

“When Debbie first came to live with us, she was in a difficult place,” June said. “She was vulnerable, scared and nervous with poor self-esteem.”

Nearly three years later, Debbie is now much more confident and happy. She loves family days out with Colin and June but also enjoys staying at home and pottering in the garden. She likes taking time to listen to music, follow her interest in art and spend time with friends at her day care centre which she attends three days a week.

“My life has changed a lot,” she said. “I feel very settled and happy now. We have lots of laughs here and I like having people around to chat with. We are always busy, and I love my life. I want to live here forever.”

As well as the day-to-day care and support Colin and June provide, Debbie received regular visits and advice from professionals to help with any personal issues.

For June providing a home for Debbie has proven extremely rewarding but she is also grateful for the “immeasurable support and guidance” she has received from the Durham Shared Lives Scheme.