It’s Shared Lives week, so if you live in the UK, look out for your local Shared Lives organisation celebrating the achievements of local Shared Lives households and the lives that people are living as a result. Here is Paul and his household in North Wales talking about love, laughter and belonging:
This week some Shared Lives carers are meeting the Care Minister Helen Whately MP to tell them about their experiences and how our new tech-enabled approach to recruiting has made it possible to recruit and approve people safely into this unique role in as little as four weeks, where before it was taking months. There is no reason why the government’s promised new vision for social care shouldn’t have models like Shared Lives at its heart. Social care is often seen as a rolling crisis – but the scale and results of our sector show it doesn’t have to be that way. We just need councils, social care organisations and politicians to be as ambitious and radical about the future as households like Paul’s are: seeing the potential and the hope where others have only seen need and problems.
Shared Lives week is a celebration, but this year it must also be a moment to acknowledge the strain that successive lockdowns have put on some households. While Shared Lives and Homeshare have proved to be safe and happy places to be for most during the pandemic, thousands of Shared Lives carers and their families have made huge sacrifices and given up vast amounts of unpaid time while their usual day services and other supports have been closed. Most councils have done something to thank their Shared Lives carers for this, and to help them with extra payments and flexibility around carrying over breaks, but not all have done this, and we are writing to local leaders on behalf of those members who feel invisible or taken for granted.
I hope that this Shared Lives week every local social care leader will take the time to say ‘thank you’ to their Shared Lives carers, acknowledge how difficult the last year has been, and ask them what they can do to keep them well, and caring.