Shared Lives Plus

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Frequently asked questions

Who can become a Shared Lives carer?

Shared Lives carers come from all backgrounds and bring a wide range of life and work experiences.  We have over 16000 carers nationally all with different life experiences.  We are not just looking for caring experience, what matters is people having the right personal skills and qualities to welcome and support a person into their home.

Just as there is diversity in the people being supported by Shared Lives, carers need to come from a variety of backgrounds and have different life experiences, skills and qualities to help meet the needs of people they support. There are, however, some common criteria that most schemes need from you:

  • to be at least 18 years-old
  • to have a spare bedroom big enough for a person to live in
  • to be a full-time resident in the UK or have leave to remain
  • to be able to give the time to care for person.

What kind of support would I give?

The support you give to people is as individual as they are but could range from:

  • Supporting someone with practical thinks like washing, cooking or shopping and helping them develop those independent living skills
  • It could involve some more personal care including washing or dressing or reminding them to take their medication
  • Helping people make connections – keeping in touch with families, making new friends and getting involved in their community
  • Supporting people to access education, volunteering, training and employment including how to manage their money and safely use it.

What if I don’t have a spare room or I’m not sure about sharing my home long-term?

Many Shared Lives carers start by offering day support or short breaks. It gives you a chance to find out what being a Shared Lives carer is like.

You can support someone just during the day if you’ve not got a spare room suitable for someone to live in. You might support someone with a learning disability or dementia – and often become an extension to their family. Day support gives carers lots of flexibility and different things to do.

Short breaks carers who have a spare room are often surprised by how much they enjoy it and then it’s often an easy decision to open your home to someone long term.

What type of people can be carers? Is it OK to be single, have children?

Anyone over 18 can apply to become a carer regardless of whether they are single, in a couple, have children or not. Both partners in a couple need to apply and attend training even if one person will be the main carer. There is no upper age limit as long as carers are fit and healthy enough.

Can my partner become a Shared Lives carer too?

Yes! Being a Shared Lives carer is open to everyone, whether single, in a civil partnership, married, straight, LGBTqia, whatever your race or religion.

Usually there is a main Shared Lives carer, and if available, you can apply with a support Shared Lives carer – maybe your spouse, adult child, or a friend who wants to support you.

Each person you support will have a life that goes beyond your home and a support Shared Lives carer – whether voluntary (and paid expenses) or a main Shared Lives carer themselves, can cover for you on holiday. You and your local Shared Lives service will work this out together during the approval process.

The application process

See here for a step by step guide or start your application today!

Before Covid-19, the assessment process for Shared Lives carers usually took between three to six months and involved lots of face to face meetings.

In October 2020 we were given emergency National Lottery funding to recruit 160 new Shared Lives carers and create a new online process which will be quicker, easier for potential carers and scheme co-ordinators, and reduce the need for some of the face to face meetings.

It is intensive – we will be asking you to complete a series of questions and exercises so we can learn more about you.  Your local Shared Lives service will use your answers as a starting point to ask you other questions either by visiting you or through online meetings.

We want to make sure that you have the right qualities and your scheme co-ordinator will want to know more about you. Why do you want to work with people who need support? Do you have the ability to nurture them, communicate with them, advocate on their behalf and include them as part of your family? Are you willing to work as part of a team, develop your skills and qualities through training and learning and have the resilience to stay strong in times of difficulty?

Will I have a say in who I care for?

Yes! This is one of the best parts of Shared Lives; everyone involved has a say and needs to be happy with who they are going to visit or live with. It’s totally unlike any other caring role.

As part of the assessment to become a carer, you’ll talk with your scheme co-ordinator about who you’d like to support – their age range and needs, the number of people you will be approved to care for, and any other considerations. Typically all arrangements will be well-matched and planned, with you all getting to know each other before deciding it is the right match.

When Shared Lives carers are well-experienced, they can also offer emergency placements, where the matching process is much shorter and your scheme ensure it’s the right option for everyone.

How do I meet the person I’d be supporting?

Once you’ve been approved, your Shared Lives coordinator will contact you to discuss potential referrals and will use the information you have provided to look at matching you with someone with similar interests and will fit into your household.  It will start like it would getting to know anyone – with a cuppa, a walk or something to eat and if you both enjoy it, then moving to an overnight visit before you can both decide if it’s right for you.

Do I need specific qualifications be a carer?

No. When you are preparing to be a Shared Lives carer you will receive training to help you and your family identify and build upon the skills you already have, and develop any new skills you might need.

Some schemes use the Care Certificate as a starting point, and many Shared Lives carers have far in excess of that but will still take Shared Lives specific training. Being a Shared Lives carer is more about your willingness to support and include someone in your home and community life.

How do I register with HMRC?

Please follow government guidance on registering as self-employed.

Will I need to do any training?

All carers undergo mandatory training for example; First Aid, Medication Awareness, Food Safety, Hydration, Nutrition and Infection Control, Moving and Assisting and Safeguarding Adults. Other training is available depending on knowledge and skills and the needs of the people being supported. From March 2020, you’ll be able to do the training online. Your scheme will also offer awareness days and support groups.

Will I have to provide personal care to the person I will be supporting?

During the approval process your scheme co-ordinator will talk with you about the level of support you are able to offer. You may need to carry out personal care that involves washing, dressing and dealing with incontinence, and this will be talked about and decided with you before the arrangement is made.

How will becoming a Shared Lives carer impact me if I am on benefits?

If you would like this information, please email

Does it affect my mortgage or tenancy?

Whilst Shared Lives arrangements are often very long-lasting, for mortgage purposes it is important to note that people living in Shared Lives arrangements have no claim on the Shared Lives carer’s property. They are provided with a licence agreement but this does not offer the same rights as an assured tenancy. In the case of short-term breaks the individual is a guest and therefore arrangements are intended only as short term breaks and not as a permanent home.

What support is available for carers?

Your scheme co-ordinator will be on hand to support you. They will be able to provide you with any advice and guidance as well as ongoing training for the role. You’ll also be able to access other services that you or the person you support need – the network of professionals around you will lead to incredible discoveries for the person you support – and you! You scheme will be able to get share activities and events they have to support you too.

Most Shared Lives services have a carer support group where you can meet other people involved in Shared Lives near you. They are a great source of strength and together with your scheme, you can celebrate your successes and support each other when you need it.

Shared Lives Plus can also support you.  When you join as a member you will be part of a network of 16,000 carers with informal and formal ways to get information advice and guidance. We have a section on the website full of advice, newsletters and webinars and an advice line staffed by Shared Lives carers.  We also have an annual conference with workshops and awards to recognise the wonderful work of our carers.  You can find out more about the membership benefits

Can I be a carer if I have pets?

So many Shared Lives carers have a pet! We reckon it’s part of being caring natured and liking a full house! Having pets does not prevent you from being a Shared Lives carer, in fact, they can be an asset and help people to grow in confidence. Every animal is different and your pets will be assessed as part of the process of becoming a Carer, taking into account factors such as their temperament and behaviour. As a pet owner, you also need to think about how your pet will respond to a new person in your home.

Can I be a Shared Lives carer if I have a long-term health condition?

Your health will be considered when applying to be a Carer and any long-term conditions are taken into account. The most important factor is whether you are physically and psychologically fit enough to cope with the demands of supporting someone else.

Will a police record stop me from being approved as a carer?

Not necessarily. The law states that the only criminal convictions that prevent people from caring are those that relate to an offence against children or vulnerable adults or a sexual offence. Minor offences should not count against you in your application to be a carer.

You will need to disclose all criminal convictions when you first apply to Shared Lives as the application process to become a carer includes an enhanced criminal record check.

What do people who visit or live with Shared Lives carers say?

It is the best quality and safest kind of care for older people and young people and is fully regulated by the CQC, with 96% of the schemes rated good or outstanding.  Currently there are over 14,000 people in the UK living in a Shared Lives arrangements.  It works!

The latest data from My Shared Life shows that 98% people in Shared Lives felt they were part of the family most or all of the time, 92% people in Shared Lives felt involved with their community, and 85% 86% felt their Shared Lives carer’s support helped them have more choice in their daily life.

Take a look through our Youtube to meet the real Shared Lives carers

Read more here

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