On January 29th, Shared Lives carers, scheme members and members of Scottish Parliament gathered in Holyrood to celebrate Shared Lives in Scotland and the achievements of the Shared Lives community there over the last year.
Shared Lives is flourishing in Scotland. 320 Shared Lives carers in Scotland (46 more than last year) have shared their lives with 435 people who need support - which is 55, or 13%, more than last year. Our new annual report describes this growth, and how Shared Lives north of the border is leading the way in support for particular types of need –older people in Shared Lives have more than doubled in number, from 93 to 200.
This quality and specialisation was underlined in an independent report about Shared Lives support for people with dementia in Moray. It showed that Shared Lives helps people living with dementia with ongoing connectedness to their communities, increased emotional wellbeing and it can delay the need to move into residential care. We want other areas in Scotland – and beyond – to follow Moray’s lead!
Against this backdrop of success, Richard Lochhead MSP, the event sponsor, began the speaking and he was followed by the fantastic Louise and Abbey, a Shared Lives match who spoke about a shared life with strong personalities and a huge amount of love.
“It’s not just us who teach Abby life skills, she teaches us every day, and we are enriched to have her in our lives.”
(read Louise’s full speech here)
“it has changed my life forever. by giving me stability, direction and hope for the future as before I didn’t have anybody and I had to fend for myself and I had no hope for my future.”
(read Abby’s full speech here.)
After that Charlie Gracie, the social work consultant who wrote the report about Moray, described his experiences when researching for the report:
“It was the matching that was so impressive for people with dementia, the time spent really getting to know someone and what, and who, would be best for them."
Jane Mackie, the head of community care at Moray Council, reflected on the strategy and processes they had employed to achieve an improved quality of life for so many people living with dementia. She was followed by Archie, a Shared Lives carer with Cornerstone Shared Lives, who talked about Shared Lives’ ‘X-factor’ – unconditional love.
“Shared Lives gives people a safe nurturing environment where they can learn from their mistakes just as we did growing up in a family home and also where possible, to heal some of the hurts that life has inflicted on them.”
(read Archie’s full speech here)
Finally Shared Lives Plus CEO Alex Fox ended the speeches by urging those with decision-making power in health and social care not to rest on their laurels after recent successes, and to continue to invest in Shared Lives.
“Shared Lives will always be based around a small family unit, but it shouldn’t be small in scale!”
It was a brilliant result for us to have a visible show of support from Members of Scottish parliament. We need funding and political support to achieve to achieve our goals and build on the good work we have seen this year. Five health and social care partnerships in Scotland are investigating creating new Shared Lives schemes – which is just as well because we want to double the number of people in Shared Lives in the next five years. This could save the public purse up to £5m per year.
If you are a Shared Lives carer in Scotland and would like to share your story – please get in touch!