What is Shared Lives like?

A Shared Lives household show what a good life can look like. Film: http://vimeo.com/108993357

Paul and Lorraine have moved into Linda’s family home and share their busy lives with Linda’s family. Film: http://inclusivefilms.org/our-films/a-real-home-a-real-life/paul-and-lorraine/

Relationships are the key

Time for another guest blog. Here is our Director of Support and Development, Anna McEwen, reflecting on Shared Lives week after exactly a year with us –  a year in which she’s had a huge impact upon our work! So Happy Anniversary to Anna, who writes:

It’s very timely that Shared Lives week 2014 includes my one year anniversary of working with Shared Lives Plus!  For me, the year has flown, there are still things I should know that I don’t and I certainly can’t use the “I’m new” excuse any more.  But we’ve seen some great work over the year, schemes developing and expanding, new schemes establishing and national providers beginning to develop Shared Lives services.  The best bits, in my opinion, are the stories that never cease to amaze me of Shared Lives carers welcoming people into their homes, sharing their homes and family life and helping people live good, and real, lives.

So this Shared Lives week as we focused on our theme of “Living good lives”, we’ve seen celebrations up and down the country to recognise the amazing work of Shared Lives carers and schemes.  There have been Shared Lives bake offs, ukulele concerts, tea parties and drinks receptions, ten pin bowling competitions and a trip to a vintage fairground.  Information events have been organised in shopping centres, libraries and town centres to raise awareness of Shared Lives. We had a fabulous parliamentary reception hosted by Liz Kendall where Shared Lives carers and people who live with them were welcomed along with MPs and given the recognition they deserve and where we also premiered our new film featuring some amazing and inspirational Shared Lives carers and the ladies they support.

All Shared Lives carers are amazing and inspirational I think. I had the privilege to work with a group of them when I worked in a Shared Lives scheme and they inspired my passion for Shared Lives.  Ordinary people who open their homes and welcome others in to live as part of their families – extraordinary.  I hope that one day, when I have more bedrooms than children in my house, I will be able to open my home too.  Lives change in Shared Lives, people have the opportunity to learn things others have said they could never learn and have experiences they could never have imagined.  Relationships are the key to Shared Lives, and as with any of us, if we feel secure in our relationships, we can do anything. Read more of this post

The NHS Integrated Personal Commissioning programme must learn from councils

This article on what the NHS could learn from social care, as it develops Personal Health Budgets and Integrated Personal Commissioning, first appeared in Local Government Chronicle, for which I write a regular column, last month: http://www.lgcplus.com/briefings/three-lessons-for-integrated-personal-commissioning/5074522.article

NHSE CEO, Simon Stevens’ first high profile announcement was for a programme for people power in the NHS based around personal health budgets, or ‘Integrated Personal Commissioning’ (IPC). What could the NHS learn from councils’ experience of implementing personal budgets – and personalisation more broadly – in social care? And how could this attempt to offer integrated, cross-sector personal budgets succeed where the original Individual Budget pilots failed to bridge the gaps between sectors some years ago?

Here are three hard-won lessons. First, reforming supply is as important as reforming demand. Personal budget control can help people make different demands, but it’s meaningless unless commissioners are deliberately reshaping supply in anticipation. Areas like Hertfordshire have created accessible local marketplaces for personal budget holders. Others have continued to develop familiar services, whilst people with personal budgets find they have the ‘freedom’ to choose their care, but nothing new to choose. In social care, this has meant that only a relatively limited number of Direct Payment holders have had both the resources and the genuine freedom to create genuinely new forms of care such as the new Personal Assistant workforce and hundreds of very diverse micro-enterprises. That has been life changing for some, whilst others have remained isolated individual consumers, with small or variable entitlements to resources, and a limited menu of ‘choices’.

Second, don’t expect the culture of collaboration and co-production to follow personal budget reforms. Instead, Read more of this post

Shared Lives Plus in Parliament and a “chance” encounter

Our first event in Parliament was organised by our communications colleagues Tim and Helen, with help from Lyn and the rest of the team. Tim (tim@sharedlivesplus.org.uk) has written this guest blog about the experience:

Straight after our first ever House of Commons reception one of our supportive MPs took Graham, Lorna, Clare, Joanne and Ayisha, the stars of the film we had just launched, for dinner in parliament.

Although we had fantastic support from frontbenchers across all major parties, notably our sponsor Shadow Care Minister Liz Kendall, Care Minister Norman Lamb, and guest speaker Nick Hurd MP, Shared Lives remains little known amongst MPs. This reception gave Shared Lives carers the opportunity to tell their representative directly about Shared Lives, and what it can, and is, doing for people who need support in their constituencies.

However for me the most interesting conversation with an MP happened not during the event itself but as we left the House of Commons dining area that evening.

On our way down the corridor, we bumped into a very well-known MP who Claire told us she had seen “on the telly”.

It would be unfair to name names without permission – but the figure in question was a household name, who commands respect across political boundaries for his work as a constituency MP over many decades. We took the opportunity to tell him about Shared Lives and that there was a Shared Lives scheme covering his constituency.

He wondered why there was a service like this in his area that he hadn’t heard of – genuinely surprised that he hadn’t come across something that sounded so positive, despite over 40 years as a local representative.

We said we’d send him some information, thanked him for listening, and went on our way.

As we walked out of parliament, I reflected on that briefest of conversations and what it meant.

Here we had someone who has been involved in supporting constituents with their needs and also making decisions about services in their community and the country for so many years – but they’d never heard of Shared Lives.

I’ve called it a chance encounter in the title of this blog; but on reflection chance isn’t the right way Read more of this post

Stop press: Shared Lives outperforms all other forms of care

News just in today, is that care inspectors CQC have published their annual State of Health Care and Adult Social Care in England. For the first time they have disaggregated Shared Lives from their ‘community care’ category and we’re glad they did: Shared Lives outperforms all other forms of regulated care, including other forms of community care. This is also consistent with the report’s finding that smaller settings are generally better than larger settings. Here is table 2.10. Shared Lives results are in yellow and include what I think is the report’s only 100% compliance statistic for adult social care:


CQC inspections

CQC inspections


It’s hard to know what good is when you have not had it

We held our first ever parliamentary event this week. Our host was Liz Kendall MP, the Shadow Care Minister, who made the Shared Lives carers and people using Shared Lives feel at home and spoke passionately about her support for Shared Lives carers in Leicester and nationally. Liz said, ‘I urge all MPs to investigate Shared Lives in your area and make a difference locally. This is about love, chance, family and choices. The things we all want.’ Care Minister Norman Lamb also spoke passionately about how Shared Lives can change lives and talked about how struck he was when he came into office by the ‘stark contrast’ between the Shared Lives he saw in action and institutional approaches, which had gone so terribly wrong at the Winterbourne View special hospital shortly before he took up his post. Nick Hurd MP, a previous Minister for Civil Society at the Cabinet Office, kicked off the event and introduced our new Shared Lives film, which was originally commissioned by the Cabinet Office and charity, Nesta, for their Centre for Social Action. You can watch it here: http://vimeo.com/108993357

16 MPs came to support us and meet their constituents who were involved in Shared Lives, which was great to see, but the highlight for everyone was hearing from Joanne, Ayeesha and Clare, three talented young women who live with Shared Lives carers Graham and Lorna in a household featured in the film. Clare kindly let us take pictures of the text of her speech which you can see below. Here is what she said:

Hello my name is Clare and I want to tell you about my life with Joanne + Ayeesha + Lorna + Graham + J.J. He’s our dog. It’s a good life.

My life did not used to be a good life.

My life was a disaster before I moved in.

I’m not going to tell you why, that is personal.

It got better when I moved in to Shared Lives.

It got better when I met Lorna and Graham. I was a bit shy at first. It was hard sometimes because I got a bit homesick.

I did not know what Shared Lives was. Not everyone does.

It’s hard to know what good is when you have not had it.

More people need to know about Shared Lives.

They need to know it is not about being stuck in a flat on your own.

It is not about being lonely.

It is about family.

It is about having choices.

It is just lovely.

It is a good life.

My message to you is that everyone should be able to have a good life.

Everyone should have the choice.

Lots of people like me are just told about living in flats.

They be told about Shared Lives.

They should be able to see it.

They should be able to try it.

They should be able to live it.

Everyone should have the chance to have a good life.

page 1 page 2

Shared Lives Plus Trustee wanted

It’s going to be an exciting day for us today, with our first ever Parliamentary event this evening, hosted by Liz Kendal MP, with Norman Lamb MP and Nick Hurd MP dropping in as well to meet Shared Lives carers and the people they support.

Meanwhile, Shared Lives week seems like a good time to mention that we have a board vacancy for one of our co-opted Trustee places.

Our board of trustees includes four trustees nominated by our national committees, two Shared Lives carers and an equalities champion. Our Chair is Nancy Plowes who manages the Bradford Shared Lives scheme. We have two co-opted board members, one of whom is Richard Jones who works in senior leadership in the NHS and is a former ADASS President. The other position has become vacant following the end of a three year term of office of Stephen Burke, former CEO of the national charity, Counsel and Care.

Our board oversees the charity’s work, setting the strategic direction, supporting the CEO and senior managers, ensuring resources are well-used and occasionally acting as ambassadors. We are seeking a trustee who has experience of senior leadership, a deep understanding of the challenges facing our sector and who can help us build our networks and connections. The board meeting quarterly in Birmingham, one session including an overnight stay, and Trustees are expected to make at least two of the four meetings. Skills currently underrepresented on the board include experience of the private sector; experience of communications and media; and links to the corporate world and potential donors. We are also keen to increase the diversity of our board and would welcome applications from people from black and minority ethnic communities.

For more information please email info@SharedLivesPlus.org.uk or call 0151 227 3499. Our Chair can be contacted on nancy.plowes@bradford.gov.uk.

See more at: http://www.sharedlivesplus.org.uk/about-us/jobs#sthash.OWvwpaSP.dpuf

Living Good Lives

We almost made the theme of this year’s Shared Lives week (13-19 October) ‘Quality’. It’s a well-used term in social care. Every reputable care provider has a Quality Assurance system. Some have ‘quality’ in their mission statement or strapline. The inspectors are called the Care Quality Commission. But it didn’t take us long to decide that ‘quality’ wasn’t quite the right word for us. Not because we don’t think quality is important. A high quality care service has sound systems in place, employs good people and manages them carefully. Those are all good things, which not every care provider manages to achieve all of the time.

But quality isn’t a word that fully describes what Shared Lives aims for. I was hearing the other day about a social worker who was a little worried when they saw a Shared Lives carers’ house, which a young woman who has a learning disability was about to move into. There were chickens, a rambling garden with bits and pieces of this and that lying about, even a beehive. Was this a safe and quality setting, I imagine the social worker thinking to themselves? What if the service user tripped over something or got stung by the bees? A ‘service setting’ wouldn’t look like this, especially if it was a high quality one. It would be more likely to have a neat, low maintenance garden tended regularly by a gardening contractor. The bees wouldn’t have survived the first risk assessment.

Three young women live with those  Shared Lives carers now. They tend to the bees, love their pet rabbits, keep quail (and plan to sell the eggs as a micro-business), and grow vegetables. You will be able to see their story in the short film we are launching this week. A garden that busy with life may not always be spotless. There may be occasional trip hazards. I don’t know if anyone has been stung by a bee. It looks in other words like a garden in an ordinary house should look. Any commissioner or care manager would, I think, see it as a ‘high quality’ setting (even if they occasionally still worried about the bees) and it is. But much more importantly, it is a good place, in which people can live good lives. And it’s ‘Living Good Lives’ that we’ve chosen as the theme of this year’s Shared Lives week.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,812 other followers