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    • Innovative and growing form of care passes “Mum Test” with flying colours according to Chief Inspector
    • CQC 3 year “State of adult social care services report” focuses on Shared Lives as showing strong leadership, positivity, with an open and transparent culture, and users well supported
    • 91% of Shared Lives schemes inspected were rated “good or outstanding” beating the care sector average of 79%
    • Government must now invest in Shared Lives to make sure all areas can reach level of the best says Charity Chief

Shared Lives Plus, the UK Network for Shared Lives and Homeshare, has today welcomed findings from the Care Quality Commission that show the Shared Lives model of care as leading the sector in terms of performance.

The Care Quality Commission’s “State of adult social care services 2014 -17” report illustrates initial findings from their programme of comprehensive inspections into Adult social care, and Shared Lives comes out top of the class – securing a special focus in the report after 91% of its schemes were rated as good or outstanding – with none inadequate.

Overall, even with the inclusion of Shared LIves, the care sector only secured 79% good or outstanding ratings, with some other forms of care performing consistently lower overall.

Chief Inspector of adult social care, Andrea Sutcliffe highlights how the “Mum Test”* has guided the work of the CQC over the relevant period – and the report findings show Shared Lives consistently meeting these ambitions, with leadership, transparency, high quality support and positivity key elements of the approach.

Chief Executive of Shared Lives Plus, Alex Fox OBE said:

“As the inspectors’ three year report highlights, Shared Lives services are particularly caring and responsive, and this enables Shared Lives carers and the people who live with or visit them to achieve incredible things, which other services don’t think are possible.”

“There are currently no inadequate Shared Lives schemes in the whole of England and none requiring improvement on the caring rating. 91% are good or outstanding.”

“There is a Shared Lives scheme in almost every part of the UK, but some are tiny. Government should invest now to ensure that all reach the scale of the Lancashire scheme, supporting hundreds of people. This would increase the number of people using Shared Lives from just under 12,000 in England to well over 30,000, saving millions whilst offering people happier, safer lives”

Alex added:

“The government’s planned consultation on care cannot focus only on its funding: it must also look at how that money could be better spent.”

 “I’d like to thank everyone in the Shared Lives family for all they have done to secure these excellent results. As the UK network representing Shared Lives, we will now use this fantastic report as further evidence of the value of Shared Lives, and continue to push the government to work with us, and local schemes, to make this amazing approach to care available to all who could benefit.”


*The report cites the Mum Test as being ""To make sure that our regulatory approach is truly personalised, I want us to consider for every service we look at - is this good enough for my Mum (or any other member of my family)? If it is, that is fantastic. If it's not then we need to do something about it."

Notes for Editors:

    • For more information or to arrange an interview with a representative of Shared Lives Plus, please contact Tim Moore, Communications Manager on 07881 521269
    • Shared Lives schemes operate across all areas of the UK. The jurisdiction of the Care Quality Commission covers England only with other bodies performing the regulatory function.

Wednesday, 05 July 2017 11:31

As easy as ABCD…?

2017 started well for me - a new job with Shared Lives Plus – as Regional Officer for the NHS England funded programme. With the overstretched NHS in the news almost every day, it seemed an ideal time to be part of a project, exploring alternatives to traditional hospital and/or residential care for people with health needs. The idea that health and happiness are interlinked may be radical for the NHS, but for most of us it is obvious that a good home and living situation will improve your health and well-being.

In January, I met with colleagues from Shared Lives Plus, along with Shared Lives carers and ambassadors at our Awayday in Liverpool. I was struck by the positive energy, skills and commitment in the room. I went away wondering why the Shared Lives model is so little known about, when it can offer so much to Shared Lives carers, families, people in Shared Lives and health and social care providers, as well as to the wider communities in which we all live.

Since then, I’ve been finding how hard everybody involved in Shared Lives works to be able to offer and nurture these unique arrangements. I’ve started to understand the resources and skills we have in Shared Lives scheme staff, Shared Lives carers and the people who use Shared Lives. The Shared Lives Plus report A Shared Life is a Healthy Life illustrates the many health benefits of living in a Shared Lives arrangement, and shows how many Shared Lives carers already support people’s health needs day to day, as they would a family member. The knowledge and expertise that Shared Lives carers have built up in this way, is a resource that we will need to draw upon to develop the work of the NHS programme. For example, one Shared Lives carer in North Somerset produced her own list of do’s and dont’s based on her experiences of people with dementia. We hope to involve experienced and proactive carers like this in peer training where good practice is shared.

Recognising and valuing the contribution of our experts by experience, and ensuring that this project is co-created by people with understanding and knowledge from the ‘bottom up’ will be important to ensure the success of our NHS programme. This is not just about doing something new, but involves doing more of what we do already, and shining a spotlight on what Shared Lives arrangements are capable of in terms of peoples’ health. Shared Lives recognises the strengths of people and communities and I think it embodies the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach. ABCD sees individuals and citizens as producers of health and wellbeing within the community, rather than as recipients of services. This is a different approach to traditional health and social care services because it asks the question ‘what makes us healthy?’ rather than ‘what makes us ill?’

Shared Lives Plus has received funding for this project from NHS England, and we are currently working with five Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) as part of the match funded programme (there are more to come). The hard reality is that NHS England and the CCGs will want to see savings to the NHS budget arising from their investment in Shared Lives; and we have appointed our evaluators (the New Economics Foundation) to help us with this. I’ve been discovering more about the inside workings of the NHS from attending CCG meetings, learning about integrated care services, commissioning, health budgets, referral and care pathways. I’ve been finding that the NHS is awash with jargon –abbreviations bounce around in these meetings until your head is spinning. To calm my nerves I have produced a short jargon buster for people in Shared Lives new to the NHS. I referred to a very helpful and much longer jargon buster produced by Think Local Act Personal . See link(https://www.thinklocalactpersonal.org.uk/Browse/Informationandadvice/CareandSupportJargonBuster/)

Definitions and language are important, but I’ve also been discovering that the right words are not always followed by the right actions. The NHS seems committed at policy level to person centred care and support building on peoples assets, but the reality is that health and social care services and funding streams are not as flexible and integrated as they might appear and the focus remains on services to fix problems. We all need to be careful of assuming that real change will follow good intentions. This is why we need the input of the people on the ground who can tell us what they know and what they need and how and if change is being delivered and experienced.

I look forward to meeting more Shared Lives scheme workers, Shared Lives carers and people who use Shared Lives in the coming months, as we steer our way together through uncharted waters in this exciting project.

Geraldine (Gerry) Cooney


This blog was written by Geraldine Cooney, NHS Programme Regional Officer, for Shared Lives Plus.

Shared Lives has inspired James and Andy to start a new community project connecting people in their community

“It makes me feel happy when I help other people. I feel ‘like everybody else’ when I do work for Local Social, Shared Lives Plus and join local clubs like Karate. It’s good to do things for myself.”

Shared Lives carer, Andy Cooke and James who he supports through Shared Lives, have started a project called ‘Local Social’ to connect people in their community.

James has lived with Andy since 2010, before he came to Shared Lives James lived in residential care.

James and Andy were inspired to start the community project after Andy enquired about enrolling James on a befriending scheme in their community.

Shared Lives carer, Andy Cooke told us: “I was told there was a three year waiting list! This wasn’t right and when I researched, I found there were 80 people who had asked for a befriender- so I and James came up with the idea of connecting people up in our community for friendship. We did some more research, talked to lots of people and set up ourselves as Local Social CIC. Karin, who does not use Shared Lives services, but in many ways is just like James, is the other Director.”

James and Andy do a lot of work with Shared Lives and they saw this as an opportunity to use their experience to help people in the community connect and build friendships.

James says:It is about choosing the things that I like doing and going to places I want to go to. Being able to make decisions for myself, with some help if needed. Living where I want to, in a house that I choose and a life that is friendly and also improves my health. Choosing and making new friends is very important to me and I have been able to do this with Shared Lives, and now I am helping other people through Local Social.”

When Andy first met James he asked what he wanted out of life, James’ reply was “more friends and a paid job.” Andy supports James to work towards achieving these goals. Local Social has been a great way for them both to work together.

Andy: Yep. Until then been in specialist residential care. 40 years old in 2010Yep. Until then been in specialist residential care. 40 years old in 2010There was a need for Local Social, so many organisations were running trips, often a long way away- but not getting people to connect. People like James were just waiting for the next trip and sometimes doing things that they didn’t want to do. I had done a lot of work on building community capacity and I am convinced that this is the way forward. We began to trial it with the Shared Lives group. People like James just need a bit of help to get social connections going and then have some input themselves. Basically, everyone we spoke to thought the idea was great!”

Andy says that the inspiration to start Local Social was James, he said: “He had been in specialist residential care, just about all his life, and it was what he needed. The work we have done with Shared Lives Plus at conferences and public speaking has given us both confidence. James has benefitted enormously in confidence, self- esteem and being valued.”

Andy’s role with the project is to come up with ideas, distribute information and to spread the word about Local Social. James is the ‘expert with experience’ as he understands what it can feel like to ‘need help, to be lonely and bored’ he knows about ‘social care’ which is so important for the Local Social project. James says the thing he enjoys most about being a part of Local Social is ‘being involved to help people.’

James has had a really positive transformation since he joined Shared Lives and met Andy, going from institutionalised life to building a life in the community- his health has improved significantly.

Andy said: “James did it himself but he just needed a bit of help along the way from Shared Lives.”

The project is only just beginning but James and Andy hope it will have an impact on their local community and others in the future.

Everyone at Shared Lives wishes them the best of luck on their adventure.


You can read our latest Shared Lives in Northern Ireland Newsletter here


For more information please contact Frank Johnston on 07392 313502


Shared Lives Plus has today launched the State of Shared Lives in England 2017 – with a call for a national campaign to raise awareness of Shared Lives.

You can see the Community Care article here and download the main report here. pdfFinal State of Shared Lives in England

Shared Lives Plus would like to thank all Shared Lives carers, schemes, and people who use Shared Lives services for everything they do to help develop and promote the model, and we look forward to working with you all make Shared Lives grow even further in the coming years.


Friday, 28 April 2017 14:53

The State of Shared Lives 2017

You can see here the State of Shared Lives 2017

Wednesday, 26 April 2017 08:44

6 Innovations in Social Care

Shared Lives Plus gave a cautious welcome to the Green Paper plans announced in the recent budget – you can see Alex Fox's thoughts here.

At Shared Lives Plus we believe the Green Paper has to be about more than a new funding mechanism – important as that is. For it to be a success, it needs to embrace transformation, and consider outcomes and values, as well as financial sustainability.

We know that there are a number of ways in which this can, and is already being achieved in some areas, and an informal coalition of likeminded partners have put together the following document to signpost the art of the deliverable and the possible.

YOu can see more 6innovationsinsocialcare1.pdf

You can see more here


Please find here Invitation_to_express_an_interest_Economic_Evaluation_-_older_people_and_dementia.docx  an invitation to express an interest in the economic evaluation of Shared Lives for older people and people living with dementia.  For more information please contact Anna McEwen, Executive Director of Support & Development at Shared Lives Plus on 07525 234698 or via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

The deadline for expressions of interest is Friday 19th May.



A  UK Charity is calling for an overhaul of how adult social care is delivered in Northern Ireland by introducing more innovation and choice for vulnerable groups - including older people. 

According a new report – the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, up to £2.6m could be saved if offered to more people rather than long term institutional care.

In Shared Lives, a Shared Lives carer shares their home and family life in the community with an adult who needs care or support to live well.

350 adults with a learning disability in Northern Ireland currently choose to live their lives in this way, and if all areas used Shared Lives at the same scale as the highest performing areas, nearly 1100 people would be benefiting from it.

According to Shared Lives Plus, this approach has significant benefits beyond supporting people with learning disabilities, and has the opportunity to transform support for the elderly in Northern Ireland too.

This is already transforming how care is delivered in other parts of the UK, tackling loneliness and isolation among older people and offering an alternative to residential care. Shared Lives carers can provide day support, short breaks and respite care as well as longer term care. 

Recent health reviews in Northern Ireland have highlighted that the current health and social care system is unsustainable with a need for more innovation, choice and sustainable models of care.

Shared Lives Plus has received funding from the Big Lottery and NESTA Innovation Foundation to work with the Health & Social Care sector to scale up Shared Lives Schemes especially to support our ageing population.  There are currently 4 schemes in Northern Ireland which are run directly by Health & Social Care Trusts or charitable organisations in the community.

Shared Lives Plus CEO Alex Fox said

“This report – the first of its kind in Northern Ireland - shows that we have a great foundation for further expansion, with many people choosing to use Shared Lives. The fantastic benefits that the report highlights are not just applicable to learning disability support: there are real opportunities to expand them to older people’s care”

Frank Johnston, Development Manager for Shared Lives Plus in Northern Ireland said

“This unique approach is growing in size and scale – but this report shows how we can go much further. We look forward to working with the Health & Social Care sector and community and voluntary organisations locally to make sure that it can reach its full potential”

You can download the full report here


For more information, please contact Tim Moore, Communications Manager, Shared Lives Plus on 07881 521269


  • Radically different care model, Shared Lives, shown to have capacity and outcomes to support many more people with serious mental health support needs.

  • National charity calls on partners to help make sure Shared Lives is offered as an option for all who could choose to use it

A new independent report released today shows the Shared Lives model of care is supporting people with mental ill health to live significantly improved lives – and Shared Lives Plus believes this approach can benefit thousands more.

The National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTI) has evaluated the effectiveness of the Shared Lives mental health project (see Editors notes) as an option for people with mental ill health – and concluded that Shared Lives offers huge benefits to those involved, with significant potential to develop as an offer.

The Shared Lives Plus mental health project was funded by the Cabinet Office to support the development of Shared Lives as an option for people with mental ill health.

Seven Shared Lives schemes took part in the project to develop, demonstrate and market a financially viable and commission ready approach to Shared Lives mental health support, and demonstrate what can and does work.

Bradford, Derby, East Sussex, Lincolnshire, North Somerset, Rochdale and Telford and Wrekin Shared Lives schemes were involved in the project, and 106 people went into Shared Lives arrangements.

The project showed that the people using Shared Lives mental health support have a more positive outlook in two major areas of their life.

Half of the people who took part in the project said they now feel a part of the community and they also feel that their emotional wellbeing is better.

62% of people living in Shared Lives arrangements said they always felt part of the family and 62%. said ‘Yes, I feel part of the family. It is great,’

The report found Individuals with mental ill health have better choice and control over their lives and their support, and improved mental health and wellbeing.

They were also enabled to pursue personal interests and activities within the community that they may not have had the opportunity to do in more traditional settings.

One person living in Shared Lives said: “I was welcomed as a family member, their parents come round, I’m mates with their nephew, and I take the dog out for a walk. It’s more of a home than a lodging”. (Person in long-term Shared Lives arrangement)

The Shared Lives support model also helps families support their loved ones. The daughter of a woman in a Shared Lives short break arrangement: “It’s better than these respite places, its one person, it’s still a home, still a house. Mum wouldn’t have gone to a respite place, she prefers one to one. Also we get to know [carer] and her family, you wouldn’t get that in respite, and there would be different staff. She’s more of a friend than a carer.

Shared Lives Plus were the key partner in the project, which resulted in well over one hundred people getting support for the first time. Shared Lives Plus calculates that if the recent gains in mental health support were replicated across its national network of Shared Lives schemes, nearly 5,000 additional people would be supported, saving over £16m.

CEO of Shared Lives Plus, Alex Fox said: “This shows that Shared Lives can be a great option for people with mental ill health, and help improve the wellbeing and independence of the person, in a supportive, family environment.

“Our goal is that everyone with mental health support needs is able to choose this form of support, if they want to. This would be one of the most significant changes in mental health support and accommodation for many years.”

“When taken alongside the potential for Shared Lives to support tens of thousands more people with other support needs such as learning disabilities and conditions related to ageing, this report shows that the Shared Lives model of care is well placed to play a major role in transforming how social care looks, feels and is delivered across the UK”

The project schemes faced challenges in developing support for people with mental ill health but there is evidence of a positive impact through day support, short breaks or long-term arrangements- in terms of the person’s wellbeing and increased activity in the community. There were 37 short breaks, 31 long-term, 22 day support and 16 unspecified Shared Lives arrangement in this project. Specific cases showed that people’s mental health stabilised and hospital stays had been prevented through the Shared Lives individualised, person-centred form of care.

The Shared Lives Plus mental health project generated an increased capacity within the Shared Lives sector to support people with mental ill health, which resulted in more people in Shared Lives arrangements and better support for Shared Lives carers. The project was also successful in reaching the their target for recruiting Shared Lives carers offering mental health support.

The Head of Service for Mental Health teams stated: “We’re very focused on the personalised care agenda… you would have to have a very good reason for someone to go into residential care… We’re trying to develop a continuum of services with things like local area co-ordination and Shared Lives.”

The Shared Lives Plus mental health project also gave an insight into what works in developing more mental health support within Shared Lives. It found that well supported Shared Lives carers, good matching, compatible funding mechanisms, flexibility, becoming part of the process, having ambassadors or champions and seizing opportunities all contributed to more people with mental ill health being supported within Shared Lives.


For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Communications Manager, Tim Moore on 07881 52 12 69 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You can also contact Communications Assistant, Hannah Cain on: 07392313500 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Notes to Editors

Shared Lives is a form of social care which has historically been used primarily for people with learning disabilities. In Shared Lives, an adult who needs support or accommodation is matched with an approved Shared Lives carer, who supports and includes the individual in their family and community life. The Cabinet Office has funded Shared Lives Plus to deliver a project to support the development of Shared Lives as an option for people with mental ill health. The project has supported seven local Shared Lives schemes to develop, demonstrate and market a financially viable and commission ready approach to Shared Lives mental health support, and to generate learning about what works.

The National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) was commissioned to conduct an independent evaluation of the project. Drawing on data collected through a mixed methods evaluation approach, this report describes the impact and learning from the project. It is hoped that the findings reported will be of use to Shared Lives schemes looking to develop support for people with mental ill health, for Shared Lives Plus supporting schemes to develop in this area and for commissioners and mental health professionals who are interested in learning about how Shared Lives can support people with mental ill health.

Developing Shared Lives for people with mental ill health- What works?

1. Getting a “way-in” – finding a “way in” to mental health teams in order to promote Shared Lives to potential referring practitioners is crucial. This could be through making the most of existing contacts or links, sustained attempts to secure e.g. invitations to mental health team meetings, or going to the ‘top’ and making contact with those with more strategic responsibility.

2. Becoming part of the process – although this can be a challenge, especially for independent providers, becoming integrated into the process where decisions are made about support packages (whether this is through being part of panel meetings, brokerage or being on a preferred provider list) is key to growth happening at any pace.

3. Having ambassadors or champions – having enthusiastic ambassadors or champions within mental health teams can be very effective at promoting Shared Lives.

4. Seizing opportunities, filling gaps – making the most of local opportunities such as gaps in certain types of provision or drives to move away from traditional forms of support – i.e. fulfilling demand – can lead to growth at a faster rate.

5. Flexibility – being flexible about the type of arrangement that can be offered, to whom, and being flexible about the role of Shared Lives (e.g. as planned prevention, facilitated discharge or maintenance) at least at the early stages of development can open Shared Lives schemes up to a greater number of opportunities.

6. Compatible funding mechanisms – although this is not always within control of Shared Lives schemes, especially in-house local authority schemes, to maximise opportunities, Shared Lives schemes need to ensure the local funding mechanisms (block contracts, personal budgets etc.) fit with the schemes processes. Ultimately, being able to accept all forms of funding through whatever route or mechanism will maximise opportunities.

7. Good matching – a fundamental element of the Shared Lives model for people with all support needs is the importance of good matching between Shared Lives carer the person being supported, and this is no different for people with mental ill health. Good matching leads to positive outcomes and referrals follow good outcomes.

8. Well supported Shared Lives carers – the Shared Lives carer is key to making a Shared Lives arrangement work. Good support for Shared Lives carers through recruitment, assessment, induction and ongoing support through arrangements ensure they can fulfil their roles.


The data is based on a small number of people- it shows an in-depth analysis into the positive changes Shared Lives support  made to their lives, in long-term arrangements, short breaks and day support . The independent report also recommends Shared Lives Plus produce high quality data about the outcomes of Shared Lives through the ‘My Shared Lives’ outcome tool.





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HOLIDAY STORIES – Share your holiday experiences here!


August 2015

Geoffrey visits Suffolk!

In August 2015 Geoffrey from the Ealing Shared Lives scheme went on Holiday to Suffolk to stay with Sally and Brian. The fortnight was packed full of activities.
Geoffrey’s visit took in Thorpness, ships at Felixstowe, Ipswich Museum, and Framlington Castle. Ice Creams were shared, walks taken and there was even a trip to see the BBC Concert Orchestra!

Geoffrey experienced the camper van lifestyle – along with the family dogs, ate fish and chips and drank tea in the open air, and overall a fantastic time was had by all.
Catherine from Ealing Shared Lives scheme tell us that “Geoffrey had a lovely time with Sally and Brian. His carer said he keeps talking about his stay in Suffolk”

You can read the full story and look at the holiday snaps in this document here. Geoffreys_holiday.pdf


June 2015 

Joe Waring is a holiday carer in Norfolk, who with his family support up to nine different individuals each year, mostly from the London borough of Wandsworth. Most people come several times a year and sometimes with a friend.
Joe wrote about two people who come for holidays.

June, who is 52 years old, comes to stay 6 or 7 times a year, having first come about 6 years ago. She sometimes comes on her own, and sometimes with a friend. She is very close to her mother and brother, and I think she likes being part of another family: myself, my wife and our 18 year old daughter. June’s mother is also reassured that the care for June focuses on her individual needs. June is very sociable and has a great sense of humour. She loves meeting our friends either at our house or theirs, and having a laugh, sharing stories and food and, I’m afraid, sharing a glass of wine, too! We go out every day to somewhere of interest in Norfolk, either in Norwich, where we live, in the nearby Norfolk Broads countryside, or to the coast. June particularly likes seeing the horse she recently “adopted” in a local horse sanctuary, and going to the amusements at Great Yarmouth. June always brings enough money to buy presents from Norfolk for her family and friends back in London.

Jack has also been coming to us for about 6 years. He always brings a pool cue and enjoys going to the local ten-pin bowling alley to bowl and play pool. He has been beating me at both for all of those 6 years, and I’m getting a bit tired waiting for his luck to run out! Jack especially likes our dog, Daisy, and volunteers to join us walking her every day. Like June, who he sometimes comes with, Jack is very sociable and always wants to meet our friends and family. He will sometimes help prepare a meal for a dinner party, and likes to dress up for the occasion in his best clothes. Jack likes going to museums- there are some great ones in Norfolk- and has recently gone a couple of times to the local cathedral to light a candle in memory of his father. Before he first did this, Jack had never gone into a church since his father’s funeral 10 years previously. Although Jack usually stays with a friend, he always comes on his own a few weeks before Christmas, when he buys presents for all his family, and wraps and tags them all carefully before taking them home.

Thanks Joe for sharing the stories and offering wonderful holiday experiences