This is a summary of the main discussions during July with combined responses from the Google Group members. If you have any questions or comments
please contact Mark or Cathy:
Newsletters for people who use Shared Lives
Carole from Southampton asked - Do any Shared Lives schemes write newsletters for their people who use Shared Lives? It is something we want to begin to undertake but would like to see if anyone is doing this at present and if so would they mind sharing one with us to give us an idea of what would be good to include?
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus – Thank you to Leeds, Derbyshire and Oxfordshire who kindly shared recent editions of their newsletters with the group. Derbyshire and Leeds’ editions seemed more geared to their Shared Lives carers. It would be possible to have a newsletter that could be sent to Shared Lives households that would be of interest to both Shared Lives carers and people in Shared Lives. Perhaps a poll of your people in Shared Lives to see what they would be interested in reading or learning about would give you a place to start from.
Carole from Southampton asked - Here at Southampton we offer 21 days respite per year for our Shared Lives carers during which time they receive 50% of their pay. Can I ask what respite provision is offered at other Shared Lives schemes, as I am trying to ascertain if this should be increased?
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus – The responses to this query ranged from 14 days at 100% pay, a couple that were also 21 days but with 100% pay, a few that were 28 days at 100% pay to 30 nights at 100% pay. A few Shared Lives schemes said that their Shared Lives carers can also pay privately for additional nights, if required. (This is of course outside of the QCR tax break and the Patrick Towergate public liability insurance protocols).
We also know there are Shared Lives schemes that are able to provide up to 6 weeks of respite (this is usually according to need) and there are Shared Lives schemes that do not provide any respite or if they do, it is not paid. All the responders to this query pay their Shared Lives carers 100% of the care and support fee during respite and the carers would usually continue to receive any Housing Benefit. It appears to vary as to whether the board and lodging fee is continued to the live-in Shared Lives carer or transferred to the respite Shared Lives carer. Ideally Shared Lives carers should receive 28 days (or more if needed) respite per year, whilst still receiving their care and support payment and housing benefit. The board and lodging payment should be transferred to the respite carer to cover those costs incurred by the person in Shared Lives.
Mark, Shared Lives Plus - Thanks to everyone who helpfully responded to Carole’s query about annual respite provision. We are conscious that queries like this can create a lot of extra email traffic for people. We were wondering if Shared Lives Plus doing a survey on everyone’s behalf and then publishing the results would be useful? We are coming at this from the perspective of trying to reduce the amount of email that people get from the Google Group. If you would like a survey going out please let me know direct – it will be short I promise! If people would prefer for things to still go through the Google Group, again please let me know.
Letters for airport officials to take people in Shared Lives abroad
Linda from Rotherham - A few months ago a Shared Lives scheme informed us about an incident at passport control where the Shared Lives carer had to explain their status to the officer regarding the person they were supporting. The suggestion was for Shared Lives carers to have an up to date letter from their local Shared Lives scheme explaining this. Has anyone got such a template letter they would like to share?
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus – Thank you to those who responded to this query and shared their letters. One Shared Lives scheme opted for a generic letter explaining the concept of Shared Lives and that Shared Lives carers are expected to support people to go on holiday. Another Shared Lives scheme wrote a letter with the people’s names and the travel dates, explaining that the Shared Lives carers had the authority to take this person out of the country. One Shared Lives scheme also said that their Shared Lives carers had ID badges so these could be carried and shown as evidence of intent.
A letter, on headed paper, signed by the registered manager, explaining Shared Lives and the role of the Shared Lives carer, with the specifics for the particular person travelling, with contact details for further information, would seem a good idea. This is similar to what people do if they are on a controlled medication or one that is not usually allowed/available in the country they are travelling to.
Old type fuse boxes
Karen from Milton Keynes asked - I have just completed a potential Shared Lives carers’ house Health and Safety check and she has an old fuse box rather than the recommended RCD type. How would other Shared Lives schemes proceed with this? The arrangements that the carer will have are for short breaks, not long-term, live-in arrangements.
Anne from East Lothian asked – I would be interested in being included in replies to this query as I discovered through a recent routine health and safety check that one of our long term Shared Lives carers still has the old type fuse box.
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus – First of all, what the Shared Lives carer needs to do in regard to electrical safety depends on whether they are a tenant or a homeowner. If they are a tenant, then it is their landlord’s responsibility. If they are the homeowner then they are the landlord and are responsible for the electrical safety in the home. The Landlord should carry out a regular basic visual safety check of the electrical installations to ensure that these are safe. This should detect broken items such as sockets and light switches or signs of scorching around the sockets due to overloading or damaged cables etc. The Landlord legal requirements recommend inspections of electrical installations every 10 years by a qualified electrician. The Electrical Safety Council now recommends for rented accommodation that period inspections/tests by a qualified electrician are carried out at least every 5 years or on a change of tenancy. RCDs/trip switches are legally required in newer properties or when an electrical installation is changed/updated but can still be seen in older properties. The risk of electric shock to the people in Shared Lives should be assessed where there is an older fuse box. RCD units can be used in specific risk areas such as in the bathroom or outside, as an alternative to updating the whole system but this should be discussed with a qualified electrician. So if a qualified electrician has checked the electrical installation and deemed the current fuse box as safe and the Shared Lives carer can show evidence of this visit, this should suffice.
Shared Lives carers working in other boroughs
Sacha from Greenwich asked - Has anyone had a situation where they have employed someone who was a former Shared Lives carer, but is now I guess a secondary Shared Lives carer but still lives with one of the current Shared Lives carers on a scheme, but in a different borough? Has this been problematic? Has there been a conflict of interest at all?
Karen from Blackburn said - We have not experienced this, however, we have received an application from a current Shared Lives carer to join the team as a Shared Lives support officer. Has anyone else had a situation like this and were there any issues?
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus – Our guidance 2.21 Protocols and Agreements for Sharing Shared Lives carers between schemes covers this in detail. In instances where Shared Lives carers are approved with more than one Shared Lives scheme it is important that the Shared Lives carer understands who their contact is with each scheme, what their processes are and any differences i.e. levels of payment or short break entitlement. When two Shared Lives schemes are involved the key to making it all work is effective communication, the two Shared Lives schemes having an effective working relationship with each other and the Shared Lives carer.
Regarding a Shared Lives carer becoming an officer, I think each situation needs to be looked individually, as I think in some schemes it would work well and in others it wouldn’t. There are contributing factors such who they care for, how much Shared Lives care vs how much scheme work they do, who would supervise them as an officer, confidentiality etc. I have had personal experience of this situation and for us as a Shared Lives scheme, it worked really well. It was a temporary arrangement originally but became permanent and mostly the Shared Lives carer provided care for another scheme, which I think helped. The experience they brought as a long time Shared Lives carer was useful and insightful for the team and there was rarely any potential for conflict of interest.
Continuing Health Care funding and Personal Health Budgets
Ed from Stockport said - Has anyone had experience of a Learning Disability case transferring to Continuing Health Care funding and any ensuing issues? Has anyone had experience of a Personal Health Care Budget that the Shared Lives Scheme has managed to commission?
Mark, Shared Lives Plus – Thanks for anyone who responded to Ed on this question.
People in Shared Lives sharing a room
Daniel from London asked - Does anyone know of any policy around people sharing bedrooms in Shared Lives? It is not something we would usually consider but we have two young people who are currently with a foster family who are twin sisters. They want to remain with their foster carer but they are currently sharing a room and the foster carer has been unable to obtain a larger property which was the initial plan. The social worker is still keen for us to continue with the assessment.
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus - As you say, we would usually say that it is important that each person has their own space in a room of their own. However, these sisters have obviously shared a room for a while, possibly most of their lives and this is a consideration, as is the fact that they are twins. I presume someone has asked them how they feel about sharing a room? Just because they are twins, does not mean they are happy sharing a room! It is currently tied into staying with their foster carer, so it is complex, as it means a major move and change if they say they don’t want to share. Ultimately, what it boils down to is, is this the best place for them to live, even if they are sharing a room? If they move to another Shared Lives household, will they ultimately be better off, given the upheaval involved? What is the prospect for the foster carer gaining a larger house in the future? How realistic is this? Is it worth hanging on for?
When I worked in a Shared Lives scheme, we had a situation where brothers were sharing, one wished for a room of their one and the other did not. The older agreed to stay sharing for the immediate future, as his brother was so upset by the prospect. When the younger one was 18 and he also joined Shared Lives, it was agreed it was now time to have separate rooms, as they were both adults.
We had a another case where a couple of best friends insisted on sharing during short breaks, even though other arrangements were available but this was all part of the fun and experience for them, as far as they were concerned.
It comes down to choice and best interest in the end and the young ladies should be at the centre of this decision.
Mark, Shared Lives Plus – In addition to the points made by Cathy regarding basing the decision around what the sisters want there are a few other things to consider here. It will be important to carry out some life planning with the sisters to see what they want to do longer term, and this could be a good opportunity to start having those conversations. Whilst they may want to share a room now, and have done for many years, they won’t do indefinitely. The other thing to consider here is that only one lot of housing benefit will be awarded to the sisters as they are sharing a room, which means the Shared Lives carer will receive less rent. This shortfall in rent will either need to be met elsewhere i.e. through care management, the sisters themselves, or the Shared Lives carer only receive a single rent payment.
Difficulties with mortgage providers imposing restrictions on Shared Lives carers
Karen from Surrey asked - Has anyone had issues where mortgage providers have imposed restrictive conditions on potential Shared Lives carers e.g. arrangements of no longer than 12 months? Were you able to get them to change their conditions and if so how?
Phoebe, Shared Lives Plus - Don’t forget as Members of Shared Lives Plus, you have access to the advice of a Mortgage company who specifically understands Shared Lives carers’ income status and roles. I’d advise any Shared Lives carers in this situation to become a Member and get access to a wide variety of legal, technical and tax advice that are specific to their roles. https://sharedlivesplus.org.uk/home/become-a-member
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus – In my experience, stipulated conditions arise from a lack of understanding about Shared Lives and what it means and entails. If you can send some information or better still have a conversation with the right person, it can really improve the situation. Failing that, if the person is not yet a Shared Lives carer and therefore not a member, you, as the Shared Lives scheme member can access the legal helpline on their behalf. Use the contact details above to find out more and see if they can help in this situation.
Maximum numbers when a household has both Shared Lives and Fostering arrangements
Nigel from Huddersfield asked - Can anyone please signpost me to the SL+ guidance and any other known guidance etc. regarding the maximum number of Shared Lives Arrangements and/or Foster Placements combined that a Shared Lives family/household should provide?
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus – Our Guidance documents ‘Defining Shared Lives’ and ‘Transition and mixed child/Shared Lives arrangements’ were shared on the forum.
It is possible that there could be a household consisting of 3 foster children and 3 Shared Lives adults and this would not be against any regulations. Each family is different but that would challenge most Shared Lives carers/families, with house size often restricting the number of people supported, before the skills/capabilities of the Shared Lives carers. If it becomes apparent that this situation may occur then a conversation with the fostering team would help, as this could pose a risk for all involved and should be identified and discussed. The carers do not have to accept additional fostering or Shared Lives arrangements but may feel they should or want to and then take on more than they can manage, through wanting to help. So frank and open discussions between all involved may be helpful there too. Relevant assessments of risks should be carried out to cover emergency situations, respite, holidays etc. that may affect the Shared Lives adults.
CQC does not prescribe an actual ratio of staff to people supported, however, the premise is that providers should risk assess the situation and show that they have assessed how many staff they need to provide the regulated activity. Staffing levels and skill mix must be reviewed continuously and adapted to respond to the changing needs and circumstances of people using the service. Please see: the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014: Regulation 18, Staffing by clicking http://www.cqc.org.uk/content/regulation-18-staffing The intention of this regulation is to make sure that providers deploy enough suitably qualified, competent and experienced staff to meet the needs of the people using the service, at all times, to enable them to meet regulatory requirements.
Local authority registers of people with a Learning Disability
Catherine from Bexley asked - For those of you working with people with a Learning Disability (LD). You may recall Local Authorities (LAs) held a register of those adults with a LD diagnosis. Here in Bexley it is my admin who has responsibility for the updating of this. My enquiry is do LA’s still hold a register for LD and is this even allowed under GDPR? I personally feel that all information is on our data system anyway, so a separate register not required. Any help/advice appreciated.
Mark, Shared Lives Plus – Thanks for any schemes who came back to Catherine on this issue. I suspect that each local authority will do something slightly different here. Regarding the GDPR requirements it would depend on how the information was obtained, what information is held and whether the individuals concerned have provided consent to their data being held. Details of the core principles of GDPR are available at https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/principles/
Training for Shared Lives officers
Lowri from Wales asked - What training do officers of the Shared Lives scheme undertake to be qualified to assess new Shared Lives carers?
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus – Thank you to anyone who responded to Lowri. At Shared Lives Plus, we are able to provide training for workers in areas such as assessment and approval. Mark delivered a day of assessment training in Scotland and all the schemes contributed to the cost of the training which kept the price reasonable. Training for Shared Lives schemes is something we are looking at developing, so please get in touch if you have suggestions of training you would like us to provide and you would consider purchasing.
Social Media Policy
Sacha from Greenwich asked - Does anyone have a policy they could share around social media use and safety? I am thinking about situations where a person in Shared Lives might be being manipulated or bullied online?
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus - This is something Mark at Shared Lives Plus has been working on recently. However, due to the Universal Credit issues and other pressing matters, it has taken a bit of a back seat just now but it is in the pipeline again. He will also be running a workshop on it at the Shared Lives National Conference in October.
Enhanced DBS checks for Shared Lives carers
Katie from Oldham asked – Just thought I’d see if any other Shared Lives schemes have experienced issues re enhanced DBSs for Shared Lives carers? We have always submitted enhanced DBS applications for Shared Lives carers, as we are conscious that Shared Lives carers may come into contact with children and young people while carrying out their caring role. Over the past few months we have had several applications returned to us with a request for information re the role and the responsibilities of Shared Lives carers which we have of course provided; however the applications have been declined at the Police check stage, as DBS have fed back that the Police don’t recognise Shared Lives carers as needing enhanced clearance, as predominantly they support adults. This as you can imagine is causing us real problems as DBS renewals are due. I wondered if anyone else had come across this before and/or can advise on a way forward?
Cathy, Shared Lives Plus - Enhanced DBS checks can be carried out on people who work both with adults and children, as the check is needed due to the person’s vulnerability, not their age. Shared Lives carers are eligible for enhanced DBS checks.
The box on the back of the form that asks whether a carer is working with adults and children, should only be checked if your Shared Lives scheme supports people from 16, as they are still classed as children. You are entitled to check the box about working from home and this means the police will check all members of the household.