My colleague Angela Catley of our sister organisation, Community Catalysts has kindly written a guest blog on their work developing Shared Lives in Derby, which is part of the area’s transformation of institutional care for people labelled ‘complex’ or ‘challenging’:
A couple of months ago Community Catalysts was asked by Derby City Council to help build the capacity of its in-house Shared Lives scheme.
“In Shared Lives, an adult (16+) who needs support and/or accommodation becomes a regular visitor to, or moves in with, a registered Shared Lives carer. Together, they share family and community life…Uniquely, 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 in a supportive family setting”
The council and their health colleagues are busy thinking how to provide compassionate, personal and responsive support to people labelled as having ‘complex needs’. They knew that people who use their existing Shared Lives service get amazing outcomes and wondered whether, with some work, similar outcomes could be achieved for more and different people.
So much potential.
The existing scheme already has procedures and systems that govern the way it recruits, trains, approves and monitors its Shared Lives carers; matches carers with people who need support and ensures the resulting arrangements work well for everyone. What the council wanted from Community Catalysts was help to consider how these existing systems might need to change to make the service more accessible and tailored to people with much more complex needs.
Every individual is just that…an individual…much much more than a sum of their labels and experiences of serviceland. That said the folks we would love to welcome into the world of Shared Lives are well labelled with tags like ‘forensic history’, ‘sectioned’, profound disability’ and ‘challenging’. These tags hide the individual in a way that feels uncomfortable to us all right now but hopefully as we start to make the potential a reality the people will emerge from behind the labels.
To try and help the scheme build its capacity and to begin to offer a more specialist Shared Lives services we know we need to consider how we differentiate between existing Shared Lives carers and those with more specialist knowledge and skills (all without creating tension or divisions). We are busy thinking about things like training, supporting, monitoring and paying specialist carers and how we give them a break and some back up when and if they need it. We are also thinking about the best way to match people in order to create Shared Lives arrangements that work well for everyone involved.
We already have plans to co-design this new model with all sorts of folks who might have a stake or interest. We really really want to get this right, for the people involved but also to help to build on the wealth of national knowledge already in the Shared Lives sector.
If you are in Derby and are interested in getting involved contact Roger Hambly, Service Manager, Adults Health and Housing Roger.Hambly@derby.gov.uk . If you would just like to express an interest or to learn more about the project contact firstname.lastname@example.org