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Shared Lives and Covid-19: what next?

As we head into another round of restrictions designed to tackle rising levels of Covid-19, Shared Lives carers, schemes and the people they support are under pressure. We are working with our whole network and decision-makers to find solutions so people can continue to share their lives safely and happily in these difficult and rapidly-changing circumstances. Whether you are a Shared Lives carer, a scheme worker or member of a Local Authority, take a look at our suggestions for this next phase of the pandemic.

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Day support, short breaks, and respite have all been limited because of the social distancing rules. This is putting pressure on people in Shared Lives, many of whom have an assessed need for, and right to, breaks and day support. It also means that Shared Lives carers are working longer and harder, with no let-up or extra financial support. In a recent survey we conducted of our members, 74% of respondents have been providing more than 20 hours additional care per week during the pandemic.

Meanwhile there has been no repeat of the emergency funding announced for social care at the beginning of the pandemic, meaning Local Authorities budgets are stretched further still, with Shared Lives schemes receiving no extra resources with which to support their carers.

We join the chorus of voices calling for more funding to be made available to Shared Lives and other types of community-based social care. This is essential for the sustainability of our sector and the health and wellbeing of thousands of people.

In the meantime, this is what we’re suggesting:

Shared Lives carers – You can advocate on behalf of the person you support to see that they receive their breaks and day support, and have their assessed care needs met, which they have a right to. You can also advocate similarly for your own breaks and fair pay for your work. We recommend that you do this in a group – there is strength in numbers – and in collaboration with your scheme. Remember, your scheme manager can’t fix the situation alone – they need to win the backing of the local authority to get you support! Find more detailed ideas for how to do this here. If you only want short-term membership, you can become a member for three or six months.

Shared Lives schemes – As well as adding your voice to that of your Shared Lives carers in advocating for the support they need, we encourage all schemes to communicate openly, regularly and with warmth to their carers. Good communication can be the difference between Shared Lives carers feeling valued, and isolated and helpless. We also urge you to explore every possible option for the provision of day support. For example, could a Shared Lives carer in your scheme provide day support for a person in a live-in arrangement? More ideas about how to provide day support creatively.

Commissioners of health and social care – We urge you to work with Shared Lives schemes to understand the financial impact of lockdown on Shared Lives carers and to ease this financial burden in order to keep Shared Lives arrangements sustainable. We also encourage you to do everything possible to re-start day services. More ideas about how to provide day support.

It is important that we work together and continue to share ideas about how to get through this next phase of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are options! Check out our latest guidance, Assessing rights and welfare challenges in Shared Lives during Covid-19, and if you have any questions – don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Become a member – annual, six or three month carer membership available