Chris and Peter were matched together by Moray Shared Lives in Scotland. Chris is a retired farmer who wanted to give people the chance to benefit from visiting his land and the woodlands he has planted. He was approved by Shared Lives Moray to take on the Shared Lives role and then matched with Peter, who visits for day support twice a week. Peter has dementia and lives at home where he is cared for by his wife. The two four or five hour sessions a week with Chris give everyone time to re-charge their batteries and lead a life beyond giving and receiving care. You can see and hear the two men talk about their Shared Life here.
The film was made after Peter had recently lost his ability to walk following an adverse
reaction to prescription drugs. The time that Chris has, combined with the opportunities he provides for walking regularly, helped Peter recover his ability to walk, which has enabled him to continue to live in his own home and community. Without the time and support given by Chris, Peter is likely to have been placed in a residential care home or provided with 24 hour paid carers in his own home. In both cases his life would have diminished significantly and the costs of caring for him would have risen sharply.
Peter is not always as alert and lucid as on the day of filming. Everyone involved believes that the support from Chris brings Peter some of his best days.
I was privileged to be part of our reception in the Scottish parliament. What Holyrood lacks in history it more than makes up for by being such a welcoming, open and inspiring place, which truly feels like it belongs to Scotland’s people, especially as our host Richard Lochhead MSP was kind enough as he always is to take our members on a tour of the chamber.
We heard from people who live in Shared Lives households who talked about the transformative effects of their relationships. As Louise Kennedy said of Abby coming to live with her and her husband, “Something clicked straight away and the three of us have never look back. I’m not going to pretend that we’re the Waltons, we’re three strong personalisites sharing a home and f course there are going to be bumps along the way, but these are part of family life and we’re very much a family. Abby is unique, and meeting her is a once in a lifetime experience…to know her is to love her.”
We launched a new report: Staying connected – Shared Lives carers supporting people living with dementia in Moray, Scotland 2019 The quotes from people involved in dementia support and Shared Lives say it all:
- ‘Loneliness is a terrible thing. Shared Lives extends the natural way to connect’
- ‘My husband goes out twice a week, with Shared Lives. He also goes to a day centre. The carers in both services are great, but the Shared Lives service is better because he’s getting out and about, going places that he wants to. It’s more stimulating.’
- ‘I know I’m doing a good job when I see the look on people’s face when I arrive to pick them up. I know some women who have started wearing lipstick again, thinking about what they’ll wear, since they’ve been coming out with me. Before, they’d lost sight of themselves.’
We all need to feel seen, not just for what we need, but for who we are. This only happens when people can get out of their own homes or care services and into the outside world, but even that isn’t enough on its own. After years of stagnation, Shared Lives is now growing in Scotland: let’s make sure that everyone in Scotland who needs support feels really seen again.