Today, Shared Lives carers and the people they support are meeting Mr Huw Irranca-Davies, Minister for Social Services and Children, to launch the annual Shared Lives Cymru State of the Nation Report 2018 and announce the new 100 Lives Campaign to provide more support to help older people stay independent.
Shared Lives Plus, the membership organisation for Shared Lives carers and schemes, is looking for 100 capable and caring people willing to share their home and support to people who need a little help to live independently.
Just under 1,000 people in Wales are already Shared Lives carers, and an extra 100 people, would help the service break the thousand barrier to support more people, particularly those over 60 who need health support. Shared Lives – where someone who needs extra support visits or moves in with an approved Shared Lives carer - has transformed hundreds of people’s lives across Wales – and is especially valuable for older people who want to stay in the community they know and love.
45,000 people in Wales live with dementia and the number of people aged 65 and over is projected to increase by 232,000 (36.6 per cent) between 2016 and 2041. The need for choice and improved services for people with health challenges is a key part of Welsh Government policy.
Janet Williams, from Llanelli, became a Shared Lives carer and opened-up her home to Max. He’d lived in West Wales, but then had moved abroad for many years. He returned home when his dementia started making daily life difficult. He moved in with Janet Williams and Julie Rumbelow after a spell in his own flat. Janet, who met the Minister today, said, “Shared Lives helped us do an amazing thing. When Max arrived, he was in a dreadful state, but once he was with us, he settled down.
Max has since passed away, but Janet is passionate about encouraging others to take part in this unique scheme.
“We loved hearing his Max’s stories, having a laugh and getting out and about with him. It was a privilege to support him. The last few months were tough, but I’m so glad we did it. I would encourage anyone who has love to give to think about their commitment, but it was a real privilege.”
Shared Lives Plus is looking for people with life experience and the capacity to care, to help someone else overcome obstacles and achieve their ambitions. Shared Lives carers are paid, but it is more a way of life, as they get a fixed amount and benefit from preferential tax arrangements. They can support someone with a health challenge, a learning disability or a person facing mental ill-health. Support can be given for as little as a day in their home or for a short-break, for a longer time for people recovering from hospital treatment or the support can be for life.
The eight Shared Lives schemes across Wales match Shared Lives carers and the people who want support to make sure they get on and want to share life together. The schemes are there every step of the way and offers guidance and training. Shared Lives has been going for 30 years in Wales and has recently received funding to expand for older people and also those coming home from hospital.
Huw Irranca-Davies, Minister for Children and Social Care, said, “I am pleased that Shared Lives has grown across Wales over the last year. They are hugely valuable services that enables some of the most vulnerable people in our society to stay in their communities and benefit from a supportive family home environment.
I would like to thank the growing number of Shared Lives carers who open their homes and lives to people who need extra care and support. Your invaluable service makes a positive difference to people’s lives every day.”
If more people are supported by Shared Lives carers, it could help to save more than £19 million – and evidence shows that people say they feel settled and valued as they maintain relationships and their independence.