A New Year’s message

With a new year just starting, as well as saying thank you to everyone who has supported our work at Shared Lives Plus over the last twelve months, I thought this might be a good time to let you know our plans for the months to come.

Our overarching ambition is that the use of ordinary family homes and relationships will become a mainstream part of every UK sector’s offer of support to people. If every area used Shared Lives as much as the North West of England, numbers of people using Shared Lives (currently around 15,000 UK-wide) would quadruple. The immediately cashable saving would be significant (£155m pa in England), but the long term gains from people finding a home and community in which to settle and belong, rather than staying dependent on traditional services and institutions, would be huge.

Achieving this would be the most significant new public service offer since ‘Community Care’. Whilst that policy change sometimes just meant the same service-based interventions moved to new ‘community’ locations, a shift to Shared Lives and other family-based and micro-scale approaches would build the community relationships needed to tackle problems like isolation, service-dependence and chaotic lifestyles.

During 2012, we took the first steps towards a Social Impact Bond to accelerate Shared Lives development. We were delighted that Shared Lives and micro-enterprises featured prominently in the Care and Support White Paper and in media coverage such as The Telegraphthe Guardian’s family section and the Guardian’s Saturday magazine  which featured Homeshare around the UK.

We’ve learnt a lot about how to develop the Shared Lives and micro-enterprise sectors in a year which saw new providers entering the Shared Lives market and a number of councils around the UK starting new schemes or redeveloping an existing one, often with the strategic support of our colleagues at Community Catalysts, who also now support around 40 councils to develop micro-enterprise friendly areas, which match the roll-out of personal budgets with a real choice of providers.

In 2013, we will:

  • Pursue social finance investment for a ‘Shared Lives incubator’, currently in development, which will nurture Shared Lives schemes which are new or ‘spinning out’.
  • Support our members to demonstrate and evaluate Shared Lives for offenders, for parents with learning disabilities and their children, and for care leavers.
  • Work with our colleagues at Community Catalysts to tackle commissioning barriers to micro-enterprises.
  • Develop Shared Lives as support for family carers,  including launching our new Shared Lives short breaks scheme, which will enable people to take Shared Lives breaks and holidays outside of their council area and around the UK.
  • Support the NHS to commission more Shared Lives  services such as the new service for people in the acute phase of mental illness; intermediate or reablement care for older people and as a dementia day support service.
  • Support new homesharing initiatives and the use of technology in building a ‘networked’      approach to care.

It should be a packed and exciting year and we hope to work with you to demonstrate that, even in a time of cuts, social care can transform people’s lives for the better.

From all of us here at Shared Lives Plus, have a great 2013.

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