Shared Lives and Homeshare are services which respect and promote human rights.
We advocate strongly for people’s human rights to be respected and believe that if human rights can be our starting point for everyone, we will prevent many human rights breaches throughout housing, older age, health and social care.
Recently we have seen how some of the most fundamental and basic human rights have been denied disabled people, older people and people with support needs. The right to life (article 2,) the right not to be tortured or treated in an inhuman or degrading way (article 3,) and the right to liberty (article 5,) have all been trampled on.
People have died because they’ve had a learning disability, and adults and children who need support are left in solitary confinement. In other institutions, people have been abused and humiliated in the most appalling ways, recently exposed by BBC Panorama. We recently reported on the NHS mandate not to resusitate older people living in care homes during Covid-19.
Shared Lives is consistently rated as the safest form of social care, although this doesn’t mean that bad things could never happen in a Shared Lives arrangement. But Homeshare and Shared Lives isn’t simply about keeping people safe from harm, abuse and imprisonment – it is about empowering every individual: everyone has human rights to flourish and have more than just the basics of a decent life. Part of Homeshare and Shared Lives’ power lies in the way people who need to use services are able to shape them. Each person involved in shared living chooses who they are matched with – either a Homesharer or Householder, or a Shared Lives carer – it’s based on their compatibility and shared interests.
People taking part in shared living (Shared Lives and Homeshare) live as part of a family, home and community are often able to pursue the things they have always wanted to do – including fulfilling life-long ambitions, learning new skills, having new experiences and making new friends. They develop and exercise freedoms that we all deserve:
Freedom of expression
People in a supportive and loving Shared Lives household are free to speak their mind – and argue with their Shared Lives carer! Like Chris, who at first ‘used to say things because he thought (Ali) wanted to hear them.’
Right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions
Many people in Shared Lives households are proud of having their own space and the things to fill them, like Kurtis: “I buy my own clothes because I became an adult. I buy all of them myself.”
Right to education
Shared Lives families are a wonderful platform for learning and growing as a person, like Michelle in Birmingham has: “The progress has been amazing. Michelle has learned a lot, personally and through her education. She’s really articulate and is great with numbers.”
Right to respect for family life
If a single word could sum Shared Lives up, it would probably be ‘relationships.’ But it’s not just about the relationship between Shared Lives carer and the person they support: 93% of people in Shared Lives felt that their social life had improved and 83% found it easier to have friends. Instead of acting as a replacement family for people being supported, often Shared Lives helps to improve relations with existing families, like Chris who said ‘Shared Lives helped me build more of a bridge with my dad.’
If you are part of Shared Lives, or providing or receiving any kind of health or care support, find out what human rights you have.
We’ve listed the rights we think may be most relevant to Shared Lives and Homeshare:
If you would like to find out if you’re dealing with a human rights issue, the British Insitute of Human Rights has created these amazing online tools to help you work out what you can do – we encourage everyone to use them.