In Shared Lives, an adult (and sometimes a 16/17 year old) who needs support and/or accommodation moves in with or regularly visits an approved Shared Lives carer, after they have been matched for compatibility. Together, they share family and community life. Half of the 12,000 people using Shared Lives are living with their Shared Lives carer as part of a supportive household; half visit their Shared Lives carer for day support or overnight breaks. Shared Lives is also used as a stepping stone for someone to get their own place. The outcomes can be startling, with people reporting feeling settled, valued and like they belong for the first time in their lives. They make friends and get involved in clubs, activities and volunteering.

Shared Lives is used by people with learning disabilities, people with mental health problems, older people, care leavers, young disabled adults, parents with learning disabilities and their children, people who misuse substances and offenders. It is being developed as a home from hospital service, an acute mental health service and a form of short breaks for family carers. There are nearly 10,000 Shared Lives carers in the UK, recruited, trained and approved by 150+ local schemes, which are regulated by each home nation’s care inspectors.

Shared Lives is also cheaper than other forms of care: on average £26,000 a year cheaper for people with learning disabilities. If all areas caught up with those using Shared Lives most, numbers (and savings to the state) could treble.

Homeshare is where someone who needs some help or companionship to continue to live independently in their own home is matched with someone who has a housing need and can provide a little support. “Householders” are often older people who have a few support needs or have become isolated or anxious about living alone. “Homesharers” are often younger people, students, or key public service workers who cannot afford housing where they work, but are happy to provide an agreed level of low level help or companionship. They help out but pay no or reduced rent and contribute to household bills. Homeshare is growing with support from Big Lottery and Lloyds Bank Foundation https://homeshareuk.org/ 

Shared Lives Plus is the UK network for shared living approaches to care and support for disabled or older people. Our 5,500 members include Shared Lives carers and coordinators and Homeshare schemes. We help our members to work together to survive and thrive, influencing local and national policy makers and providing support, training, events, resources, research programmes and access to insurance. Our members include 5,000 Shared Lives carers, 150 local Shared Lives schemes and 22 Homeshare organisations, right across the UK.

We work with our sister organisation, Community Catalysts (www.CommunityCatalysts.co.uk), a social enterprise set up by Shared Lives Plus. Community Catalysts helps councils, health trusts and providers to create the conditions in which community enterprises can survive and flourish.

A number of articles set out our vision for personalisation which builds more upon people’s relationships and which offer lessons from the personalisation of social care for others sectors: The new social care, Royal Society of Arts, 2013: http://goo.gl/6NPnP; Can we have a People Powered NHS? RSA, 2014: http://bit.ly/1psacBe; Closing the Winterbournes: http://bit.ly/QTuhhG; Putting people into personalisation, ResPublica and Hanover Housing: http://goo.gl/FcMRv.

More about our work:

See the stories page for stories from our amazing members.


The views and opinions expressed in this blog are personal to me and do not necessarily represent those of Shared Lives Plus. I change my mind about lots of issues, so sometimes older post don’t even represent my own views any more….

Feel free to comment on, challenge or disagree with anything I write on this blog. I reserve the right to moderate and delete comments which are abusive, defamatory or otherwise unlawful or which do not reflect Shared Lives Plus’s commitment to promoting equality and diversity.

Please contact me to request the removal of any comment or other content that you believe to be offensive or unlawful.