We launched our new “Shared Lives Incubator” at the Royal Society of Arts this week. The Incubator is a partnership between ourselves, our sister organisation Community Catalysts, the social investment experts, Social Finance, and leading care provider charity, MacIntyre. The event also launched a report which has been written with the help of four councils who provided the partners with detailed breakdowns of the costs of a range of kinds of social care in their areas. Analysis of those figures showed that, taking all the associated costs (such as day care and breaks) into account, Shared Lives is nevertheless cheaper than care homes and supported living by an average of £26,000 per year per person (for people with learning disabilities) and £8,000 per year per person (for people with mental health problems).
Those huge cashable savings mean that socially-minded investors, such as charities which might otherwise invest their endowments on the stock exchange, can be made a modest return on investments they make in helping Shared Lives schemes to grow. The investor puts their money at risk to employ a new coordinator and if the local scheme grows successfully, the council pays a premium on top of the usual cost of new Shared Lives arrangements to provide the return on investment. The Incubator is not just about bringing investment into schemes, it is also about bringing the combined expertise of Community Catalysts and MacIntyre to ensure that schemes are operating as effectively and efficiently as possible.
The savings are important, because they make the growth of Shared Lives possible in a time of austerity, but they are not what motivates us. Shared Lives carers get involved not to make savings for councils, but to help people live different lives, and often because they want to live a different kind of life themselves. As one Shared Lives carer said of the person who lives with her, “We go out for lunch and tea together and shopping for nice clothes, we also visit the cinema regularly and have been to see a few shows at the Theatre. My family are very much a part of her life now and my two year old Granddaughter adores her. We have been on a few holidays together up to now and she comes with me when I visit my Daughter. We have a great relationship and get on like a house on fire. Her life has changed dramatically in less than a year, she now leads a very happy, healthy and very full life and has lots of friends and a Boyfriend and is full of confidence. I have made a huge difference in her life and she has in mine too. I left a job with a Local Authority after 40 years service last July and have never looked back or been happier. I love A dearly and will continue to support her to live her life to the full.”
The Minister of State for Care Services, Norman Lamb MP, joined us and spoke eloquently about his support for Shared Lives. He said, “We need to accept that it’s time to look beyond government action and pots of money to think about what role communities can play in looking after each other. There is so much talent and ability within communities and individuals.” He stressed that he was not talking about “replacing essential statutory services,” but about “enhancing and complementing them” and explained that this “means changing attitudes and processes that just see people as ‘needy’ of help. Instead we have to take a strength-based approach to tackling people’s needs, not just seeing the negatives around what they can’t do, but the positives around what they can.” He continued, “Shared Lives is in the vanguard of driving change in many respects….it provides an innovative, alternative model of care to home care or residential homes for disabled adults and older people. And it does that by seeing the positives in people, not the negatives”.
“Shared Lives carers provide care from their own homes and support from their own community networks to those in need. These carers not only open their hearts to those in need – they literally open their homes and their lives to them. That makes this initiative the ultimate in reciprocal giving, not just on a community level but on a very personal, household level.”
If you want to find out more about how your local scheme or council can receive support and investment from the Incubator, please get in touch.