A UK Charity is calling for an overhaul of how adult social care is delivered in Northern Ireland by introducing more innovation and choice for vulnerable groups - including older people.
According a new report – the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, up to £2.6m could be saved if offered to more people rather than long term institutional care.
In Shared Lives, a Shared Lives carer shares their home and family life in the community with an adult who needs care or support to live well.
350 adults with a learning disability in Northern Ireland currently choose to live their lives in this way, and if all areas used Shared Lives at the same scale as the highest performing areas, nearly 1100 people would be benefiting from it.
According to Shared Lives Plus, this approach has significant benefits beyond supporting people with learning disabilities, and has the opportunity to transform support for the elderly in Northern Ireland too.
This is already transforming how care is delivered in other parts of the UK, tackling loneliness and isolation among older people and offering an alternative to residential care. Shared Lives carers can provide day support, short breaks and respite care as well as longer term care.
Recent health reviews in Northern Ireland have highlighted that the current health and social care system is unsustainable with a need for more innovation, choice and sustainable models of care.
Shared Lives Plus has received funding from the Big Lottery and NESTA Innovation Foundation to work with the Health & Social Care sector to scale up Shared Lives Schemes especially to support our ageing population. There are currently 4 schemes in Northern Ireland which are run directly by Health & Social Care Trusts or charitable organisations in the community.
Shared Lives Plus CEO Alex Fox said
“This report – the first of its kind in Northern Ireland - shows that we have a great foundation for further expansion, with many people choosing to use Shared Lives. The fantastic benefits that the report highlights are not just applicable to learning disability support: there are real opportunities to expand them to older people’s care”
Frank Johnston, Development Manager for Shared Lives Plus in Northern Ireland said
“This unique approach is growing in size and scale – but this report shows how we can go much further. We look forward to working with the Health & Social Care sector and community and voluntary organisations locally to make sure that it can reach its full potential”
You can download the full report here
For more information, please contact Tim Moore, Communications Manager, Shared Lives Plus on 07881 521269