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Short breaks and the rights of people supported by Shared Lives

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Because of the Covid-19 crisis, many short breaks, day support and respite arrangements have been suspended. We know this has put incredible pressure on many of our members and on the people you support. We want to do everything we can to work with Shared Lives schemes and carers to help these arrangements to re-start.

Shared knowledge

Over the last two months, we’ve been talking to schemes about how to re-start short breaks and day support in the safest way possible. As a result of these conversations, we produced a document “Sharing the knowledge: What Shared Lives Schemes have said about restarting short breaks,” to gather the knowledge and experience of those schemes who have already begun to re-start these services.

For Shared Lives schemes who are not sure how to proceed and want to hear about what other schemes have been doing, you can log in to the Shared Lives Plus website. There you can read through that document, available in the members’ dashboard, Covid-19, resources section of the website.

Laws which underpin the right to a short break for people supported by Shared Lives

Since we published the “Sharing the Knowledge” document in July, there have been a number of local lockdowns announced across the UK, from Luton to Aberdeen. In light of these new restrictions, a number of Shared Lives schemes have questioned whether it is legal to re-start short breaks.

In England, Scotland and Wales, people supported by Shared Lives have a right to have their needs met, which includes short breaks, regardless of changes to government lockdown policies. This means that if a person is assessed as requiring a short break as part of their care package, the local authority is legally required to ensure that the stated need is met within the time period specified. In England these duties and obligations are outlined in the Care Act 2014, in Wales in the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, and in Scotland in the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968.

In other words, if a Shared Lives scheme has the capacity to re-start short breaks, the law supports them to do this. A persons assessed care needs (as outlined in these laws) are currently not overridden by any other laws, including any laws relating to lockdown. 

Should Shared Lives schemes re-start short breaks?

We stated in the “Sharing the knowledge” document, that it is important for Shared Lives schemes to begin re-starting short breaks as soon as possible to ensure that people supported by Shared Lives have their assessed care needs met, and to prevent arrangements from breaking down.

Shared Lives Plus recognises that local authorities and Shared Lives schemes may have a limited capacity for providing short breaks given the ongoing challenges created by Covid-19. However, where Shared Lives schemes do have the capacity to re-start short breaks, they are legally able to do so.