We’ve had lots of media coverage of Shared Lives this week which is fantastic. The interest stemmed from Leicester’s initiative to bring Shared Lives to older people for the first time in the area. When so many older people are faced with both isolation and rushed, impersonal care, an approach in which people can get the care they need from someone who they’ve got to know and who isn’t against the clock, but has time to enjoy spending time with them, is a much needed new choice.
Of course, we don’t get to control the messages the media uses and frustratingly, reporters tend to describe Shared Lives as ‘like fostering but for adults’, which gives the impression that it is about treating adults like children rather than helping people to stay strong and independent, through feeling valued as part of a family and community. Some of the reports have suggested that people visiting a Shared Lives carer would be left at the mercy of a stranger. Again, this is completely wrong: whilst many forms of care involve accepting the care of a number of strangers, Shared Lives starts with matching, so that both participants feel they want to spend time together before committing to a support arrangement.
We’ve produced a very short briefing on Shared Lives and older people. Please feel free to share it! We’re particularly keen that local older people’s organisations get to see it so that they have a chance to find out the facts about the model before they read media reports which may give a misleading impression. You can read or download it via this link: Older People briefing 2014 UK