17,000 people who live in, or receive care from Britain’s second largest care home operator, Four Seasons, are today left in doubt about where they live, as the private equity firm Terra Firma pleads with lenders to approve a financial rescue package for it. Four Seasons was saddled with huge debts to its own owners after they bought the care provider in 2012. This £220m debt, loaned at 15%, will earn Terra Firma £660m by 2022. The financial struggles emerged today as part of the Paradise Papers leaks.
But it is the small signs, like the canary in the coalmine, that we need to listen to. Last week, Bield Housing, a high quality care provider, made the decision to withdraw from running residential care homes across Scotland, on the basis that this is no longer a viable financial business due to falling funding from local authorities.
The decision by Bield, although small by comparison, is the more profound. When a high quality provider walks away from an industry saying it is uneconomic, then our national leaders need to listen.
These two very different examples show, more clearly than ever, that we need new ways of caring in order to provide the dignity and care to our older family members.
There are options.
Using Shared Lives, older people can live in their own home and communities for longer. Their paid Shared Lives carer supports them to continue to live the life they know, their friendships, their families and their communities. Delaying the move into residential care leads to better lives for older people and their relatives who know their elderly parent is cared for by someone they have got to know and trust.
Alternatively using Homeshare, older people are matched with someone who needs a place to live and wants to share some of their time. The curses of loneliness and housing dealt with simultaneously.
There are always other ways to do things, let's not allow the greed of private equity and the collapse of an industry to destroy the lives of our parents.
Today, Shared Lives carers met Rebecca Evans, the Minister for Social Services and Public Health to launch the annual Shared Lives Cymru State of the Nation Report 2017.
In Shared Lives, an older person can get support in a Shared Lives carer’s home, while they recover from ill-health, or after hospital treatment, or for a short-break when a family carer needs support.
This year’s report calls on social and health care commissioners to look at how they can offer Shared Lives support to older people, and those with dementia, because all too often older people are missing out on this valuable alternative to residential care.
Shared Lives carers are trained and regulated. They are matched with the older person, who needs care, so they can form a real relationship based on shared interests and experience. Having a home from home in their own community often helps an older person recover their confidence and regain independence. Once they have formed a friendship their Shared Lives carer will be there to help them cope with any health crisis in the future.
Shared Lives Chief Executive, Alex Fox, said: “Commissioners need to think more imaginatively about the services they offer, if we are to transform care in the way Welsh Government has set out in the Social Services and Well-being Act.
Shared Lives support helps older people, who often suffer more because they are isolated and alone, form a real relationship that can support them to manage even chronic health problems.”
The minister has given Shared Lives tremendous support in their campaign to bring Shared Lives services to older people and those living with dementia. She said: “Leading an independent and fulfilled life is very important to an individual’s health and well-being. Shared Lives enable some of the most vulnerable people in our society to stay in their communities and benefit from a supportive family home environment.
“We supported Shared Lives Cymru new initiative through the Intermediate Care Fund to extend their valuable support to older people, including those with dementia. By offering respite care in a home environment, older people will be able to be discharged from hospital more quickly and be supported as they regain their independence, or even avoid hospital admission altogether."
The Welsh Government awarded a further £242,460 under the Sustainable Social Services Third Sector grant from 2016-2019 to support this work to enable older people needing support to stay with a trained and regulated Shared Lives family, close to their own home and in their community.
“I would like to thank Shared Lives for the great work they do and especially the carers who open up their homes to make a positive difference to vulnerable people’s lives every day.”
Traditionally Shared Lives services have been used by adults with learning disabilities to support them to live full lives in the heart of their communities. Although not well-known Shared Lives schemes offer services across Wales.
You can read the full Shared Lives Cymru State of the Nation Report 2017 here.
Our latest guest blog is from another one of our Ambassadors, Michael. In the past Michael was a part of a Shared Lives arrangement, he now lives independently. Michael’s blog is about his journey to living independently with help and support from Shared Lives along the way.
“In September 2011 I moved from fostering to Shared Lives, I lived with a Shared Lives carer 24/7 until 17th May 2012.
It was good because it helped me learn how to become independent. On the 17th May 2012, I moved from my Shared Lives arrangement into supported living, but I continued to use Shared Lives for day support
One Shared Lives carer that supported me was called Sharon. She supported me a few times a week to help me get out and about. We went to the Coronation street tour 3 times, Disney on Ice, shopping and the cinema. We had fun and many lovely times, Sharon even helped me with household tasks, like buying things for my home and supported me until October 2015. Shared Lives carer, Sharon was the best worker I've had since my mentor in 2007/08. I still miss her but everything I’ve done and learned with Sharon will stay with me.
I’ve had a few other Shared Lives carers in that time that didn’t always work out- but when I moved on 22 April 2015, I met Syvania. She supported me for 9 and a half hours and Sharon was also supporting me for 8 hours, Select Support Partnership were with me for 9 hours a week. I have many lovely memories with Syvania, she helped me to stop drinking fizzy pop and drink healthy fruit juice instead, and I only have fizzy pop when I’m having a mocktail or cocktail now.
My Shared Lives carers have been like a mum to me, they have patience to teach me new skills, they’ve helped to teach me to cook and clean up.
People who don’t know about Shared Lives could learn from Shared Lives carers, they help to improve people’s life skills, go out on trips and holidays, and get you involved with community groups.
Shared Lives carers have helped me out with emotional support, given me someone to talk to, be healthier and I’ve been supported well. Everything I’ve learned with Shared Lives will help me in the future.
Shared Lives has helped me to be more organised, which means I worry less, everything is in order which means I’m less anxious now. I know how to do shopping lists, Shared Lives carers told me to check what I’ve got in before I go shopping, so I don’t buy the same stuff. I look out for offers and shop in the healthy isle. They’ve taught and showed me how to manage my money. “
Michael lives independently now and gets support from another agency but is still a part of the Shared Lives family as one of our Ambassadors.
For further information about becoming a Shared Lives carer, a member or using Shared Lives services, phone the office on 01512273499.
Shared Lives has been overwhelmed by responses to our request for Christmas memories and moments, over the years.
This year we wanted to celebrate Christmas with a look back at how Shared Lives carers and the people they open their life, home and family too, celebrate the festive season.
We have been inundated with heart-warming, fun and meaningful memories from Shared Lives carers and schemes.
This year’s Christmas theme is to showcase the relationships developed through Shared Lives- and what it means to the people who use our services.
We also wanted to show everyone what a Christmas with Shared Lives is all about- as many of our Shared Lives carers may not use social media.
One Shared Lives carer, Loraine Muir, sent me her greatest Christmas moment with Leslie, who she has known for 13 years.
“I am Lori, a Shared Lives Carer in Horsham with the West Sussex Scheme. In that capacity I have known Leslie, a sixty year old gentleman, for thirteen years. Last year following a significant bereavement I thought it would be a positive experience for us both to visit Longleat Festival of Light with my Daughter and Grandchildren.
We stayed nearby the night before so we could make the most of the day. It was everything I had hoped for and more. From seeing all the magnificent animals to the boat ride, it was immensely enjoyable for our three generation group. However, as Leslie loves birds the daytime highlights was feeding the colourful Lorikeets, and the Parrot show, which made him laugh out loud.
As it grew dark and the lights were turned on the atmosphere became completely magical. We walked around the visual displays in awe and wonder. The many photographs taken were put in an album for Leslie and he proudly took it with him to show to his friends. It was a very special and uplifting occasion for us all but it was particularly heart-warming to see how much Leslie enjoyed himself.”
We would like to thank Loraine for sharing one of her and Leslie's favourite festive moments, and everyone else who has sent theirs in to us. Merry Christmas from everyone at Shared Lives, please continue to send in all your best Christmas memories and pictures spent with Shared Lives!
As the challenges of austerity continue after the Autumn Statement was announced- with social care seemingly taking a back seat to other priorities, there has never been a more appropriate time to demonstrate what the Shared Lives care model can achieve.
The Shared Lives care model is a personalised form of care that focuses on developing people’s independence and capabilities. People that live with learning disabilities, long-term illnesses, mental health problems and dementia. This is achieved through setting up a ‘shared life’ arrangement were people who have trained to become a Shared Lives carer invite someone who uses Shared Lives services into their home. They make the person feel like they belong and they are surrounded by friends- in a family environment. The focus of the arrangement is based around the goals of every individual, what they want and need from life, the support and integration into their local communities- in a family environment that will support and encourage them to live the best quality of life possible.
Rose spent over 20 years living in a residential placement before moving to live with a Shared Lives carer, in April 2016. Rose has a complex and profound learning disability, very limited verbal communication and is in some ways a very vulnerable young woman. Historically, Rose was labelled ‘challenging’. It was clear she needed several Shared Lives carers for different support needs.
Rose now lives with Maxine, and has support from four other Shared Lives carers who provide day support and overnight ‘breaks’ for Maxine, who is a Shared Lives carer is Derby.
Rose loves horse-riding, swimming, going for a coffee and socialising. Going to church has been a big feature in her life.
It was the smile that won Maxine over and, for several months now, Rose has had possibly the most settled and community-based support of her life.
Heather is one of the Shared Lives carers who supports Rose in the day. She says, “My friend is a child minder and she lives over the road. When Rose comes on a Tuesday and Friday, Susan always pops over for an hour and Rose loves to spend time with the children… Rose absolutely loves children...”
Introductions continued for around 6 months, an afternoon, a full day, and then two days a week. These were maintained when Rose went from hospital to a respite provider- it was too soon to attempt a move straight to Maxine’s. Rose eventually had an overnight at Maxine’s and this went really well. Training and countless meetings for the Shared Lives carers, including Rose’s mum and family were arranged and everything went very well.
After a few problems and difficulties in their initial meeting, they both began to build a relationship and Maxine gained Rose’s trust. At present, they have a great connection and understanding of one another, and Rose is now able to share her everyday life and activities with Maxine which was unimaginable two years ago.
Another Shared Lives carer, Julie, says: “It’s the highlight of my week. I really look forward to Rose coming here. I just get so much from it, so much in return.”
Monica takes Rose horse-riding and this is her favourite time of her week. Monica also supports a gentleman long term. He and Rose have made a really valuable and genuine friendship. “They both love spending time together. It’s simply two people who have really clicked and enjoy each other’s company.”
Maxine has included Rose in all aspects of her life….Truly shared her life: “My mum loves coming round and seeing Rose... Rose has made a big impact on the others at Church and is warmly welcomed each week and included in everything… Rose brings a richness to my life, has a real sense of humour and real character…”
Rose has now been at Maxine’s for almost one year. There have been ‘incidents’ and challenges, but everyone involved in Rose’s life agrees that this has been a real success. Rose is leading a ‘normal’ life in her community, with people in her life who care and take an active interest in her life, expand, develop and create fresh experience and opportunities. Rose’s social circle has grown significantly and will continue to do so.
Some arrangements can be challenging but not impossible. Shared Lives Worker, Dean Davis and Ordinary Lives Team Social Worker, Naomi Fearon, have worked very hard ‘thinking outside the box’ to make this arrangement work for Rose so successfully.
Shared Lives Plus in the news
There has been lots going on with Shared Lives Plus recently and we’re busier than ever, so we thought we would give you all a round-up of recent news.
The Biggest news of the week is Homeshare featuring on Sky news and launching their new Twitter account which we are encouraging everyone to follow: @Homeshare_UK.
In other news, there is a new Shared Lives scheme in Cumbria
Cumbria County Council have launched a Shared Lives scheme to match adults who need support with host carers who already provide day support, respite and long term care in the carer’s home. The new scheme also means the council are now recruiting new Shared Lives carers to provide our care model, and they are also encouraging potential carers to get in touch.
You can read the full story here.
Related article here
This new scheme has led to Shared Lives being in the newspaper, Cumberland News' with a feature of Shared Lives carer, Libby Potts. You can read her story here.
Two schemes recieve a GOOD from CQC
South West Shared Lives has made local news after receiving a GOOD from CQC. The Herald Express did and article and shared pictures, you can access the article here.
Bexley Shared Lives also made local news for receiving a GOOD from CQC, which also reported that Shared Lives carers supported people to be independent, and that the management for this scheme was greatly appreciated by carers and the people they support. The full Bexley Times article can be accessed here.
This is our perfect #Tuesdaymotivation to keep working hard and spread awareness of Shared Lives Plus and Homeshare to every person who could benefit from our services.
Hello everyone and welcome to our latest blog on our work with NHS England. You may have recently seen Fiona Clark’s guest blog on the NHS England website, if not you can read it here.
Shared Lives Plus have had a hectic few weeks with the NHS programme, Fiona and Jenni are still travelling around the country on their journey to visit Shared Lives schemes and CCGs who are applying for match funding to develop Shared Lives for health in their area. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks for both, but they have been ‘privileged’ to meet so many dedicated people along the way.
Last week Fiona and Jenni took park in a Shared Lives Plus seminar on Intermediate Care, giving presentations and leading workshops.
There were nearly 70 delegates from across England and Wales and they were a mix of people such as health commissioners, hospital staff, social care workers and Shared Lives.
Jenni Kirkham, NHS Programme Officer says: “It was great to be with so many people who are keen to work with us to develop a Shared Lives model for Intermediate Care and the next year is going to be exciting to watch Shared Lives schemes recruiting carers who are ready to support people at their homes following a stay in hospital. “
The areas who are applying for match funding for the NHS England programme have until the end of September to get their final applications in to us. Shared Lives Plus and NHS England will be making the decision as to which areas will receive match funding in the first week of October and we hope to make the public announcement in mid-October, in Shared Lives week. Check out our Twitter account (@SharedLivesPlus) for updates on all NHS related information and announcements on Shared Lives Plus week, including the annual Parliamentary Reception on 19 October 2016.
With Jenni and Fiona travelling the country at the moment, working with and visiting schemes and CCGs, now is the perfect time for everyone to get to know the faces behind the great work that Shared Lives Plus is doing with NHS England.
This week we will be learning all about Jenni Kirkham, our NHS Programme Officer, who as all our staff will tell you is very enthusiastic about not only her own work with the NHS but developing and spreading awareness of Shared Lives as a whole.
I sat down with Jenni earlier in the week for a chat about her career so far and her work with developing Shared Lives with the NHS.
Jenni, Can you tell me about your career so far and how it has lead to you working on the NHS programme for Shared Lives Plus?
“My career to date has been varied, but has the common denominator is that it has always involved working with people. In my early days I got a job at the local authority housing team, working in customer service and managing the housing allocations process with people. From there I moved into social services and trained as a community occupational therapist assistant, which meant I did assessments and then fitted equipment in people’s homes that meant they were able to live well at home.
I have worked as a deputy manager of a hostel for homeless families too. The idea of “home” seems to be quite central to my career; I spent the next 8 years as Care Manager of various Home Instead Senior Care companies in Merseyside. I have now worked for Shared Lives Plus for 18 months, the first 12 months I worked in Support and Quality, supporting Shared Lives schemes with guidance and queries. In 2014 I also spent a year out in Australia! I prepared to spend a year travelling from place to place, but I actually found a place I felt I could call home and settled there for 9 of the 12 months- once again reinforcing to me how important it is to have a place you can call home. “
Jenni, everyone at Shared Lives Plus admires your enthusiasm and you clearly enjoy your role, what is it you love about your work with the NHS?
“I love that I am able to work towards raising the profile of Shared Lives within health, where for many people Shared Lives is an entirely new concept. I find that working with the staff and carers at Shared Lives schemes is inspirational and I enjoy working with them to develop and grow their schemes, to enable more people to have the choice of living in a home with family around them.
Each time people hear of the ways in which a person has blossomed when being supported within a Shared Lives arrangement, it raises the expectations of what people can achieve and how people with long-term health conditions can live well in their community- no one should be limited to where or how they live, just because of a lack of options in their area forces them into inappropriate residential or institutional accommodation.”
You can read one of the amazing Shared Lives arrangements Jenni is referring to in the here
Hello everyone and welcome to our latest “Scaling up Shared Lives in Healthcare” blog. This week we’re celebrating the work that our Shared Lives carers do in helping people with learning disabilities have the highest quality of life possible. As you may know Shared Lives Plus has recently received a £1.75 million pound grant from NHS England. This is to help CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) and NHS Trusts in England to offer Shared Lives locally as an alternative approach to traditional healthcare for people.
Since our last update, Fiona Clark, (the NHS Programme Director) and Jenni Kirkham, (NHS Programme Officer) have set off on their travels around the country to visit the CCG’s and Shared Lives schemes who are interested in developing Shared Lives services within their communities . They are covering the length and breadth of the country to support the CCGs and schemes to complete the work needed to be eligible for the match funding available from NHS England to develop the scheme.
With care transforming as society and the NHS adjust to circumstances, we believe it is important that people have a choice to live a life that they are happy with, and one which is suitable for every person’s individual needs and aspirations.
We decided that the best way to show everyone how Shared Lives can have a positive and meaningful impact on a person living with a learning disability, was to let James, who has lived experience, tell you himself.
James says; “I don’t feel like I have a learning disability, but I know that I’ve got one, because of all the support I get now in Shared Lives. Before I came to Shared Lives I was not allowed to do things I could do and always needed staff with me- often doing things I could do myself. “
James has epilepsy and a learning disability. He was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 6 years old and then until the age of 40 was in specialist care. Firstly at St Elizabeth’s in Hertfordshire, very near his family home and then residential care at the National Centre for Epilepsy in Chalfont, Buckinghamshire.
James feels he did not learn new things before he joined Shared Lives but now he has more freedom to do the things he wants to do.
The Shared Lives model will support people who have needs which make it hard for them to live on their own. This is achieved by matching them with a Shared Lives carer to share their family and lives, receiving care and support in the community. People using Shared Lives may have learning disabilities, dementia, mental health problems or other needs which require long or short term support. It will offer them the opportunity to either live with their matched and approved Shared Lives carer, or visit them regularly for day support or overnight breaks.
James’ Shared Lives carer has had a remarkable impact on his life, helping James become more confident and independent. He now feels confident to go to town and shop, have lunch in his favourite place.
James: “My life is friendlier, Andy, and others, have helped me make more friends. Andy has helped me to do more things that I can do myself now – cooking, the washing, ironing, walking out with Bronte the dog- normal stuff that everyone does.”laces and meet new friends
When Andy asked James, a few years ago, what he wanted his life to be like, the reply was ‘more friends and a job that I can get paid for’. Since then this is what James and Andy have been working towards.
Andy said: “Now, building up James’ community connections’ and using his skills to feel valued and have purpose are key to a good and happy life. The frequency of epileptic seizures has significantly decreased to the extent that he has not had a seizure for over 18 months. James says he is ‘not bored now’ and that there is’ always something to look forward to and do’. James can get up in the morning, something he just couldn’t do before and his thinking and decision making is vastly improved. However, this has not always been the case.”
A few years ago James epileptic seizures meant that he has spent time in hospitals. Between having seizures and taking his medication, James was prevented from doing much in the past and feels he was almost forgotten.
In December 2012 epileptic seizures clustered and in the next two months James had 12 hospital admissions for varying lengths of time. All local hospitals and one in North London tried totreat James. Each time more medication was prescribed that had significant impact on James without decreasing the seizures. James was put in an induced coma and spent 3 weeks in Critical Care.
He was prevented from doing much in the past and feels he was almost forgotten. We decided to ask him, if he thought that people in hospital waiting for a place to provide them with care, could benefit from Shared Lives?
Being a part of a Shared Lives arrangement provides people with a family environment, independence and allows people to live the life they want. James, with the help of Andy’s support has become a part of the community, volunteering at the local Country Market every week which he loves. He has also has just started a self- funded training post in a local shop that could lead to a job in a large supermarket.James said: “Yes, they could.” He says that when he came out of hospital, after many visits because of epilepsy, he was supported by people he knew and who knew him really well. He was in a place he felt safe and comfortable and this helped him get better. He believes other people would feel the same.
James’ life has completely changed for the better. He gives a training session to new carers about epilepsy once a month, has helped lead a workshop on Community Connecting at the Shared Lives Plus conference and is part of a team that supports health checks for Shared Lives schemes.
He presents his story, ‘Two Men and a Dog’ about how Shared Lives has changed his life, to various audiences. James is also a Co- Director, with Andy and one other, of a registered Community Interest Company, called ‘Local Social’ that aims to support socially isolated people connect with their community. Andy works with James on all these activities that use James’ knowledge and skills to develop a confident and fulfilling life.