This guest blog is a story from Derby Shared Lives scheme about how a team of Shared Lives carers can work with an individual who needs particularly complex support to live well. Thanks to Derby and my colleague Hannah for her input:
Rose loves horse-riding, swimming, going for a coffee and socialising. Going to church has been a big feature in her life.
Rose spent over 20 years living in a residential placement and has a complex and profound learning disability, very limited verbal communication and is in some ways a very vulnerable young woman. Historically, Rose was labelled ‘challenging’. It was clear she needed several Shared Lives carers for different support needs.
Rose now lives with Maxine, and has support from four other Shared Lives carers who provide day support and overnight breaks for Maxine, who is a Shared Lives carer is Derby.
It was the smile that won Maxine over. Introductions continued for around 6 months, an afternoon, a full day, and then two days a week. These were maintained when Rose went from hospital to a respite provider- it was too soon to attempt a move straight to Maxine’s. Rose eventually had an overnight at Maxine’s and this went really well. Training and countless meetings for the Shared Lives carers, including Rose’s mum and family, were arranged and everything went very well. For several months now, Rose has had possibly the most settled and community-based support of her life. At present, they have a great connection and understanding of one another, and Rose is now able to share her everyday life and activities with Maxine which was unimaginable two years ago.
Heather is one of the Shared Lives carers who supports Rose in the day. She says, “My friend is a child minder and she lives over the road. When Rose comes on a Tuesday and Friday, Susan always pops over for an hour and Rose loves to spend time with the children… Rose absolutely loves children…”
Another Shared Lives carer, Julie, says: “It’s the highlight of my week. I really look forward to Rose coming here. I just get so much from it, so much in return.”
Monica takes Rose horse-riding and this is her favourite time of her week. Monica also supports a gentleman long term. He and Rose have made a really valuable and genuine friendship. “They both love spending time together. It’s simply two people who have really clicked and enjoy each other’s company.”
Maxine has included Rose in all aspects of her household and truly shared her life: “My mum loves coming round and seeing Rose… Rose has made a big impact on the others at Church and is warmly welcomed each week and included in everything… Rose brings a richness to my life, has a real sense of humour and real character…”
Rose has now been at Maxine’s for almost one year. There have been ‘incidents’ and challenges, but everyone involved in Rose’s life agrees that this has been a real success. Rose is leading a ‘normal’ life in her community, with people in her life who care and take an active interest in her life, expand, develop and create fresh experience and opportunities. Rose’s social circle has grown significantly and will continue to do so.
Some arrangements can be challenging but not impossible. Shared Lives Worker, Dean Davis and Ordinary Lives Team Social Worker, Naomi Fearon, have worked very hard ‘thinking outside the box’ to make this arrangement work for Rose so successfully.