White Paper highlights Shared Lives and micro-enterprises

Today’s social care White Paper highlights our members’ Shared Lives and micro-enterprise work as ways in which the social care system can move from a crisis-only service, to one which is preventative and focuses on people’s well-being and how connected they are with those around them. It also notes that Shared Lives can help people live better lives whilst saving on average £13k per person, per year. If every region used Shared Lives as much as the North West of England, the saving in England alone would be £155m per year.

Here’s our press release:

New figures show opportunity to save £155m pa when people with learning disabilities move out of Winterbourne View style ‘hospitals’ into family homes.

Social care White Paper endorses the Shared Lives approach.

Although little-known, around 8,000 registered Shared Lives carers now share their family and community life with an adult who visits them instead of visiting a day centre, or moves in with them instead of living in a care home. Shared Lives outperforms all other forms of adult care in government inspections and is also cheaper, but remains scandalously under-utilised.

Today’s social care White Paper highlights Shared Lives as a key part of achieving a more community-based care and support system, which relies less on traditional paid-by-the-hour services.

New analysis of NHS figures by Shared Lives Plus shows huge regional variation in the use of Shared Lives. In the North West, Shared Lives represents 18% of all live-in/ residential learning disability support, whereas in Eastern England the proportion is only 2.5%. With each Shared Lives arrangement creating an average annual saving of £13,000, bringing every region up to the level of the best would quadruple the number of people with learning disabilities and other long term conditions living in Shared Lives to 16,000, saving the health and care system £155m every year and creating enough capacity to enable the closure of virtually all remaining ‘special hospitals’ of the kind seen in last year’s exposé of the Winterbourne View facility.

Alex Fox, Shared Lives Plus Chief Executive said: “Whilst social care often only makes the news for the wrong reasons, Shared Lives remains the sector’s best-kept secret. We know that people with learning disabilities can live happier, more fulfilled lives in ordinary family households than in large institutions, so it is scandalous that the NHS and some councils continue to spend our money on completely inappropriate institutions. In one recent example, a Shared Lives arrangement costing around £400 per week was used instead of a secure facility costing £5,000 per week. In another, a man previously labelled ‘too challenging’ to live outside of a residential unit he said he hated, moved to live successfully with a Shared Lives carer, saving the council £45,000 a year in the process.”

There is also huge untapped potential for developing Shared Lives with new groups of service users to make even greater savings. Whilst 23% of Shared Lives users in London have a mental health problem, five English regions offer no Shared Lives arrangements whatsoever to people with severe and enduring mental health problems, with institutional services still the norm.

Sian Lockwood, Chief Executive of Community Catalysts said: “The Shared Lives sector has doubled in size over six years but there are still only 4,310 people living in Shared Lives households. Half a million people live in residential care homes. Some councils predict that the cost of adult social care alone will represent 100% of their budgets within a few years, unless they make radical changes to the way they support vulnerable people. There is a Shared Lives scheme in nearly every council area in the UK but whilst some areas are currently doubling the size of their local scheme, others remain largely unknown and under-used.”

Alex Fox added: “The social care White Paper sets out the government’s intention to ensure that everyone who needs long-term support is offered a way of living in an ordinary family home in their community. Shared Lives is the only realistic way we can make that vision affordable for many people with complex support needs.”


Notes to Editors…

Shared Lives is used by adults (and 16/ 17 year olds) who need support and/or accommodation, including people with learning disabilities (currently 75% of Shared Lives users), people with mental health problems, older people, care leavers, disabled children becoming young adults, parents with learning disabilities and their children, people who misuse substances and ex-offenders. There are around 10,000 Shared Lives carers in the UK, of which 4,500 are Shared Lives Plus members (www.SharedLivesPlus.org.uk). Shared Lives Plus is a national charity supporting Shared Lives carers and the local schemes who recruit, train and approve Shared Lives carers. It’s sister organisation, working strategically with councils, is Community Catalysts (more below).

Local Shared Lives schemes are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (England) and its equivalents in the other home nations. Shared Lives is unique in regulated adult support, in that Shared Lives carers and those they care for are matched for compatibility and then develop real relationships, with the carer acting as ‘extended family’, so that someone can live at the heart of their community but in a supportive family setting. In 2010, The Care Quality Commission (CQC) gave 38% of Shared Lives schemes the top rating of excellent (three star): this is double the percentage of care homes which receive three stars. 95% of Shared Lives schemes were either good or excellent and none were poor: a result unrivalled by any other care sector.

NHS Information Centre figures (Table S1 of the ASC-CAR data set at https://nascis.ic.nhs.uk/Tools/Olap/Asccar/AsccarS1.aspx) for England show that the sector has doubled in size over six years to 4,310 people using Shared Lives as a live-in/ long term arrangement in 2010-11 (current figures for short breaks and day support are not available, but were another 6,500 in 2009-10 from CQC figures for England).

Number of people 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11

East Midlands 200 225 240 315 330 350

Eastern 20 45 70 115 125 110

London 435 590 505 700 695 770

North East 100 105 115 175 180 190

North West 475 610 540 685 680 675

South East 470 480 520 765 805 835

South West 105 270 230 255 400 395

West Midlands 170 340 425 560 570 555

Yorkshire & Humber 195 260 290 425 415 430

Total 2170 2925 2935 3995 4200 4310

This headline growth disguises considerable regional variation. Shared Lives provides 17.9% of all live-in and residential care arrangements for people with learning disabilities in the North West, but only 2.5% of such arrangements for the East of England. When all social care services users are considered, London social care services are six times more likely to be offered Shared Lives than service users in the East of England (2.9% of all service users compared to 0.46%). London also leads the way in offering Shared Lives arrangements to people with long term mental health problems. People with mental health problems account for 23% of Shared Lives users in London, but the average for the other regions is only 4%.

All figures are for live-in care arrangements, for 2010/11 Learning disability: user numbers & % of all social care service users with learning disabilities Numbers of all Shared Lives users & % of all live-in social care users.

East Midlands 325 8.7% 350 1.7%

Eastern 110 2.5% 110 0.46%

London 560 9.3% 770 2.9%

North East 185 9.5% 190 1.25%

North West 610 17.9% 675 2.04%

South East 700 10.6% 835 2.49%

South West 335 7.3% 395 1.67%

West Midlands 430 9.7% 555 2.41%

Yorks Humber 345 10.3% 430 1.81%

Total 3600 9.4% 4310 1.92%

Comparisons of the costs of Shared Lives with other forms of care have consistently shown substantial savings are generated by the use of Shared Lives. A business case, produced with Improvement and Efficiency South East and available on http://bit.ly/ruvA1K, demonstrated savings of up to £50,000 p.a. per person created by using Shared Lives rather than other forms of support and accommodation for people with learning disabilities and complex needs. More recent analysis of council figures, generated by Community Catalysts, have shown that a Shared Lives scheme can generate savings which average £13,000 pa per person, using conservative assumptions. If all regions reached the North West’s use of Shared Lives, for both people with learning disabilities and people with mental health problems, the saving generated for the public purse would be £155m pa.

Community Catalysts is a Community Interest Company launched by Shared Lives Plus in January 2010. Community Catalysts supports the development of sustainable local enterprises delivering services which people can buy to live their lives. Community Catalysts works across the UK through local partners to support local enterprise. A major focus of its work currently is with local authorities and health trusts keen to create an environment within which micro entrepreneurs can flourish. http://www.CommunityCatalysts.co.uk

More Shared Lives stories and case studies are available on request.

For further information contact:

Tris Brown

07810 528 477


5 thoughts on “White Paper highlights Shared Lives and micro-enterprises

  1. Tim Southern July 11, 2012 / 2:10 pm

    Not news to those of us who work in Shared Lives and Micro enterprise services but a welcome boost to find that others are begining to wonder why more people cannot be supported in such brilliantly personalised ways.

  2. richard jones July 11, 2012 / 3:21 pm

    excellent to see Shared Lives and Community catalysts, plus Tyze highlighted as offering solutions to the future envisaged by the White Paper published today.We know the reduction on public sector spending requires a resposne whichis about reform and not cutting back and Shared lives offers improved outcomes at lower cost. What we do need is acknowledgement too of the need for more resource into the care and support pot and lets hope that doesnt get kicked backway beyond the next election as poeple are missing out ow

    • alexfoxblog July 11, 2012 / 10:57 pm

      Thanks Richard! couldn’t agree more. Alex

  3. Chris Sherwood August 21, 2012 / 7:20 pm

    It is great to see Shared Lives and your work on micro-enterprise highlighted in the White Paper. Keep up the good work!

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