There are Shared Lives schemes right across the UK and The Northern Scot paper recently talked to people involved in the Moray Shared Lives scheme which is growing the number of older people it supports. Here’s an extract:
Following a stroke which affected her speech and left with weakness down one side of her body, former swimming teacher and pool manager Jean Sutherland (82) was keen to regain the skills needed for independent living. Jean worked with a care officer to plan her support needs. She gave day services a try, but decided it wasn’t for her and it was suggested the Shared Lives service might be a good alternative. Following a taster visit to the home of Hilary Williamson, Jean hasn’t looked back, becoming part of the family along with fellow service user retired telecoms engineer Maurice Johnston (91), who stays with his son and daughter-in-law. He started coming to Hilary’s home to give his family a break, leading to his latest eight-night respite stay in what has become his home away from home.
“It’s a proper home here and I really enjoy coming. I feel relaxed and able to enjoy life,” said Maurice, who keeps his mind active with games of draughts and puzzles. Both he and Jean love the rural setting of Hilary’s home and getting out into the garden. Jean has also returned to her hobby of cross stitch after a special table attachment was sourced to hold her work in place. Thanks to Hilary’s help, she has learned how to work the needle left-handed.
Not that day support means there is much time for sitting about as Hilary often arranges trips to restaurants for lunch and the trio have just enjoyed a visit to the Fochabers Heritage Museum which proved to be a real trip down memory lane. Despite having no previous experience in the caring profession, after hearing about Shared Lives Hilary decided to find out more and pursue it as a new career.
“I saw it as an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives in a really relaxed way. It was a benefit to be able to work from home and I feel this is a calm and peaceful setting for people to enjoy,” explained Hilary.
She is able to take two clients at a time and through the activities she provides – which are tailored to the abilities and wishes of her service users – works to keep them mentally stimulated, as physically active as possible and connected to the community to reduce any feelings of isolation.
Her dedication to helping make a difference is echoed by registered mental health nurse Angela Baker who spent 20 years working for the NHS and for herself in the community. She saw Shared Lives as a way to continue to utilise her skills and experience.
Among her service users is Joy Cumine (77) who, after her husband died, moved to Burghead to live with her daughter. She explained: “I have mobility problems and as my daughter is out working all day I was on my own and not seeing anyone. It affected my confidence. I went to a day service but didn’t like it – this is more my style and I am building up my confidence again.”