The PSSRU team at Kent University have published their research into Shared Lives for older people, which you can find in Working with Older People, here.
Whilst the study was fairly small (150 people), the results were overwhelmingly positive. They say,
‘Shared Lives would appear a good “fit” with the on-going personalisation agenda .… Most of the respondents cited support from Shared Lives as the reason they felt more independent, due in part to being able to exercise choice and control in a home environment. A surprising number of respondents also specifically highlighted the positive impact Shared Lives had on their mental health and emotional well-being which was exclusively linked to the supportive relationship they had with the Shared Lives carer.’
Being matched with a consistent Shared Lives carer with whom they could have a long term relationship (either visiting regularly for short breaks or living with their chosen Shared Lives carer as part of the household) this increased opportunities for social contact, with “never feeling lonely” explicitly mentioned as a benefit. People regularly described this as life changing: For one participant, Shared Lives means “to have company around me, friends are my life.”
Whilst it was important to people to be able to take part in activities, it was equally important that they were doing them with people they had chosen and now knew well. The authors quote research that shows, ‘Well-being in later life is less about what older people do, but rather of who with and how they feel about them (Litwin and Shiovitz-Ezra, 2006).’
People in the study said:
‘Every day I have activities to go to. Without the support of the family I live with I wouldn’t be able to do this. (female, 68 years old, long-term placement).’
‘Because I have difficulty walking am house bound and the weekly outings give me an opportunity to be in the outside world again. (male, 83 years old, day support).’
Read the full article at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/WWOP-03-2016-0005. Our thanks to Nadia Brookes, Sinead Palmer and Lisa Callaghan and to Working with Older People.