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New report shows growth potential for Shared Lives in health

Shared Lives Plus has released a new report demonstrating recent progress in growing its Shared Lives model to support individuals with a range of health needs.

It comes at a time when the care sector has a potentially significant role to play in easing pressure on the NHS. The Covid-19 pandemic has put an extra burden on hospitals to free up beds and prevent DTOC (delayed transfer of care), with social care providers seen as a solution for patients who have ongoing health or care needs, but are otherwise able to leave hospital.

In partnership with consultants Cordis Bright, who were commissioned to carry out the research, the detailed report focuses on the Scaling Shared Lives in Health programme, which ran from 2016 to 2019, and its impact across 70 Shared Lives schemes in England.

Key findings include a high percentage of schemes (79%) currently with exposure to health arrangements, with some developing more substantial portfolios. The report also identifies further challenges and solutions to enable further growth, such as a call to clarify overall strategic focus on whether to expand services for anyone with a health need, or those that could be funded through health budgets. To emphasise this point, evidence suggested many health-related arrangements were still found to be funded via social care channels.

Other overall recommendations include a focus on local relationships to identify gaps in service provision, further evidence gathering of the impact on the sector and a structured approach to a shared case study tool, which would allow greater inter-scheme learning.

Anna McEwen, Executive Director of Support and Development for Shared Lives Plus, welcomed the findings:

“The report is a clear indication of the opportunity for Shared Lives in supporting health needs away from the social care funding model. We have seen increased awareness among Shared Lives schemes and a number of those schemes demonstrating significant progress.

“Shared Lives can support reablement and provide a safe, family environment that offers professional, regulated care. In the current climate this is especially relevant when we consider the increased pressure on our health services during Covid-19. We are fully committed to the continued growth of Shared Lives for health and, thanks to the positive reflections in this report, are confident we can achieve further success in the future.”

Colin Horswell, Managing Director at Cordis Bright, added:

“Shared Lives schemes are already successfully supporting people with a range of health needs, including mental ill-health and acquired brain injury. Our research found there is potential to support more people with health needs, however there are challenges around building awareness and moving away from an acceptance that health needs can or will be met via social care funded routes.

“To support more people with health needs to access Shared Lives arrangements, local schemes should continue to work with health partners to identify gaps in local provision that Shared Lives would be well placed to fill and to put in place appropriate funding arrangements.”

For further information you can download a full copy of the report below.