Latest news

A new health and care system: escaping the invisible asylum is published by Policy Press and launched at Nesta in London with Simon Stevens (video), and at a seminar at Manchester Metropolitan University’s MetroPolis think tank on 20 March 2018 with  Jon Rouse, Liz Kendall MP & Prof Sue Baines. Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, says, “This is a profound and timely call for a different relationship between people and the services and institutions of the welfare state. It’s a radical and necessary call to arms for a more human, personal and connected society”

Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News met a Shared Lives household: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb_DyYvE9zE

This Homeshare film has been viewed over 20 million times. Lloyds Bank Foundation,  the Big Lottery Fund, SCIE and partners are growing Homeshare in the UK. Our £1.75m partnership with NHS England is developing Shared Lives as a new form of healthcare with 8 local NHS trusts. The Shared Lives Incubator social investment programme developed in partnership with Social Finance and Community Catalysts is investing in Shared Lives in three areas.

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We need a Homeshare Development Officer

Salary Scale: £32,966 per annum (19,285 pro rata). Hours: 2.5 days per week

Accountable to: Policy and Development Officer (Homeshare)

Location: Liverpool Office or Home based

Duration: Fixed term until 31st March 2020

Shared Lives Plus is the UK network for Shared Lives and Homeshare. Our members are Shared Lives carers and workers, and Homeshare programmes.

We are looking for a dynamic individual to build on a successful two-year period of growth and expansion of Homeshare across the UK. This key role will provide continued strategic support and guidance to our network members and provide stability and dedicated support for Homeshare pilot programme schemes while also supporting the wind down of unsuccessful programmes where necessary. The successful applicant will help to drive up the quality of delivery of the Homeshare and support the development of a sustainable future for the Homeshare UK network through the promotion and development of new funding models and opportunities, supporting development of new schemes and new models of Homeshare.

Shared Lives Plus is committed to equality of opportunity for all staff. Applications from individuals are encouraged regardless of age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and marriage and civil partnerships.

Deadline for completed applications 9.00 am on 24th April 2018. Interviews will take place in Liverpool on 1st May 2018. Closing date: 30 April 2018

Shared Lives Plus Apply here.

Creating a groundswell

This is a guest blog from my colleague Anna McEwen:

At a Transforming Care conference organised by NHS England BILD in Sheffield,  I was delighted to deliver a workshop along with Shared Lives Ambassador James Rossborough and his Shared Lives carer Andy Cooke who are now a seasoned duo and brilliant advocates for Shared Lives.

As an ex-learning disability commissioner, I’m saddened by the lack of progress that has been made around the country since the atrocity of Winterbourne View.  Many of the challenges we heard about today are the same that we were talking about six or seven years ago in local authorities.  But what we did see and hear today was that, for some people, life has changed dramatically and that there are some really positive stories about areas doing things differently and empowering people to leave hospitals and institutions and live in the community.

I was heartened to see an agenda that started with people, not professionals; two of the three keynote speakers being people with learning disabilities or parents.  The conference was also co-chaired by the brilliant self-advocate Karen Flood, who made a great double act with Fiona Ritchie of Turning Point.

No one in the room could have failed to be moved when Carrie Grant (yes, the Carrie Grant off the tv!) spoke. Carrie is a mum to four children with special needs including two autistic daughters and one who has ADHD.  All have differing needs and have slipped under the radar, as is so common in autistic girls who very often turn to self-harm and even attempt suicide in too many cases.  How she leaves the house every day is nothing short of a miracle, let alone work, support other parents locally, deal with ‘professionals’ and school all on top of supporting her own children in four very unique and different ways.  Remarkable, as are all those families out there who are the real experts along with their children or family members and are best placed to work out how best to support them.

A couple of Carrie’s reflections were really powerful. Firstly – why are we sweating the small stuff? Why is our system trying to make young autistic people conform or ‘fit’, and excluding them if they don’t?  Do the small things (e.g. wearing school uniform) really matter that much that they are worth excluding young people and denying them the ability to learn with their peers? When we know what the implications can mean for those young people why do we continue to squeeze them all into the same mould?

The second, when asked what her priority would be for the next year in Transforming Care, Carrie said ‘creating a groundswell’ – creating a voice and movement that really starts to see parents and families as leaders and equal partners with the “professionals”, because until we really do then coproduction is just another tokenistic word and nothing will really change.

I was left thinking that while there are good things that exist out there, the damage done by letting young people down at an early age is irreparable and we must do better.

In our workshop we introduced people to Shared Lives, some for the first time, and shared stories of how people have moved out of hospital and institutional health settings into Shared Lives, changing their lives, physical and mental health for the better. Maybe if we were able to start this process earlier, to introduce young people and their families to Shared Lives carers, we’d be able to support them to develop relationships and stay in the communities they know rather than ship them off miles away and avoid that damage being done in the first place.  One mum in our workshop said Shared Lives is exactly what she wants for her 18 year old daughter, the alternative being hospital because there is nothing else – and what parent wants that for their child?

Anna McEwen is Executive Director of Support and Development for Shared Lives Plus: anna@sharedlivesplus.org.uk

Safe, shared lives

This is a guest blog from one of our newest colleagues:

I’m Natalie and I currently work for a national domestic abuse charity called SafeLives; having worked in the domestic abuse sector for over ten years, I’ve just been seconded to Shared Lives Plus to work on a new domestic abuse project. Funded by the ‘tampon tax’, we’re going to be working in partnership over the next two years to provide an alternative accommodation option to victims and survivors of domestic abuse. We know that housing issues can place a massive barrier in the way of victims, either when trying to leave an abusive relationship or when trying to move on from previous abuse.

Unfortunately, domestic abuse is prevalent; one in four women

Read the rest of this blog at www.sharedlivesplus.org.uk

Blank sheets or spreadsheets?

This is my blog for the Social Care Future event, which also features here on the In Control website.

The people with learning disabilities who work at human rights organisation CHANGE pointed out to me once that people who have a learning disability are the only group of oppressed people who are routinely excluded from what should be their own civil rights movement.

I am keeping this in mind while thinking about what I and Shared Lives Plus can contribute to Social Care Future, which will run in parallel to the annual National Children and Adult Services Conference in Manchester this year.

Fully coproduced events start with a blank sheet of paper. That’s the best way to produce something like a neighbourhood plan, where the resources to be used are largely those that the participants bring themselves. It can be problematic, though, for making plans to change services and systems, because there can be a disconnect between what emerges on the blank sheet of paper, and what is already written in seemingly indelible ink on the spreadsheets produced by those systems. Conversely, if you start with the services and try to rethink them, it’s hard to get further than a few tweaks, because those pre-existing conditions seem so restrictive.

The Total Transformation model published by SCIE, PPL, Nesta and Shared Lives Plus includes an approach to local change which attempts to find a middle way between pure coproduction and narrow service redesign. The tool identifies five areas in which support and health services impact upon people’s lives and for each, identifies at least one innovative model which can demonstrate good outcomes and lower costs. The five areas of work are:

  • Support in your own home
  • Support with accommodation
  • Day activities and employment related-support
  • Support with leaving hospital
  • Whole-community work

The model suggests having a conversation with citizens about each of the five, which starts with ‘What does a good life look like for people using support of this kind?’, which is honest about the state money currently being used and what those budgets are expected to be in coming years, and which looks at what people like and don’t like about current local approaches, as well drawing no the models with a national evidence base. To be useful, any conversation of this kind needs to arrive at decisions about what share of resources (state money, other kinds of funding, people’s time and energy, community resources) will be put into which kinds of model. This will usually include agreement about reducing time and money spend on some things, to increase it in others.

Think Local, Act Personal’s ‘Asset Based Area’ approach broadens things even further: looking well beyond social care or even services in general, to suggest ten changes that local areas would need to pursue to become ‘asset-focused’ in everything they do.

We need, I think, to have those kinds of conversations at national level too. Could those areas which have started to use the Total Transformation or Asset-Based Area approaches, or other change approaches which have similar goals, share their experiences and their decisions at Social Care Future? Could we identify the features of future support services and systems which we want and don’t want?

In my new book, A new health and care system: escaping the invisible asylum, I argue that we spend so much time tinkering with the big organisations we already have, that we ignore what I see as the most pressing question about the services they provide: what kind of relationship should people who access support and people who offer support have with each other? At present, I think it’s the wrong relationship: starting with proving one party’s needs and dependency, whilst often assuming the other party can do more than any paid professional really can. Not really a relationship at all: a series of brief transactions between a stream of strangers. That can be ok if you have a very specific problem which is quickly and easily fixed, but most people approaching services don’t: they are trying to live well with one or often more long term support needs. They are looking for mutually-respectful and trusting supportive relationships with a small group of people who are in it for the long haul. They want those support relationships to fit with the long-term relationships they already have with family and friends. Models like Shared Lives and Homeshare, which we support and develop at Shared Lives Plus, work in that way by enabling people to choose and build long-term relationships as part of building family and community life. Other models share that approach and I believe that nearly all parts of the health and social care system could try to work in that way.

So perhaps Social Care Future could help us identify not just ‘good’ models to grow (and perhaps some failing models we would like to see less of), but also the behaviours and relationships we expect of every kind of support service. In turn, we would have to identify what we (citizens, families, communities and community organisations) are willing to invest in making that social care future a reality.

New ways to share your home

The Guardian featured Shared Lives and Homeshare as part of a story about ways to share your home. This is an extract from the full article:

Before he moved in with Alison Cooper, her husband Gary and their 21-year-old son William two years ago, Jonathan, 43, who has autism, would spend his days roaming Taunton. He was living with his elderly parents; living with peers hadn’t worked out, and he had unsuccessfully lived alone for a while – cooking is beyond his ability, and he was living off ready meals and takeaways, which was affecting his health.

Alison, 52, who works with people with learning disabilities, heard about Shared Lives; she and her family had hosted international students for years, but this seemed like the chance to live with someone more permanently.

Now, Alison says, Jonathan is happy and settled, spends two days a week at a day centre and works two days a week in another one. “His confidence has grown. Before, if he had to have a meeting with a social worker, he would write things down rather than talk to them, but now you can’t stop him talking.” This year he says he wants to go on holiday, which he’s never said before.

It has been a rewarding experience, Alison says. Did she worry it would change the dynamic at home? “I did. It has to be something the whole family wants. But now there’s no changing it – Jonathan is part of the family.” He visits his parents at weekends, but also spends a lot of time with the Coopers. “He knows we’re not just caring for him, he’s living his own life.”

Andy Marsland lives with George Oprișanu in Heywood, Greater Manchester

Andy, 67, had lived alone for 14 years before George moved in last August; he had become ever more isolated following his divorce 20 years ago, and particularly after he retired as an overhead line supervisor. “I sat in front of the box all day,” he says. Social workers from a local social enterprise called PossAbilities suggested Andy take part in Homeshare, which links up lonely older people with young folk who want cheap rent, and which is funded by Lloyds Bank Foundation and the Big Lottery Fund.

George, 30, chanced upon Homeshare online back home in Romania looking for digs in Heywood, where he had got a job working in the Argos depot. After he was cleared for Homeshare, he and George had a brief Skype chat and agreed to give it a go. He pays Andy £18 a week towards utilities, plus £150 a month to Homeshare, making it a much cheaper option than private rental. “My colleagues at Argos are jealous at how little I pay,” he says.

Under the Homeshare agreement, George promises to spend 10 hours a week with Andy and is to sleep at home at least five nights a week. Sometimes they go out bowling, “though he won’t come any more because I keep beating him”, Andy says. They don’t like each other’s food, so cook separately. But George is learning more English, or at least Lancastrian, such as “Al si thi”, Andy’s preferred form of saying goodbye.

See https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/mar/10/part-family-strangers-sharing-home

Escaping the invisible asylum

The video of the launch event at Nesta is here. NHS CEO Simon Stevens begins the event by talking about his early experiences of being an NHS trainee, when his new boss thought it would be a good learning experience to admit him to a psychiatric ward so he could experience what that was like first-hand….

Huge thanks to Nesta for generously hosting the event, and Halima Khan who chaired it wonderfully, to everyone who braved the snow to attend and to the Policy Press team who believed in the book and made it possible.

There is a northern launch event with Jon Rouse and Liz Kendall MP at Manchester Met University’s MetroPolis think tank on March 20th – see link in the post at the top of the page.