You’ll never walk alone

As lockdown starts to ease, our members continue to be under pressure like never before and so we wanted to share with you signs of hope and inspiration for our communities after a wonderful week of celebrating Shared Lives carers.

Knowing that we couldn’t meet up in “real life” this year, we made as big a noise online as possible about their Shared Lives carers’ magnificent achievements. We campaigned for their income to be covered for those that have lost income due to lockdown cancelling day support or short breaks and recognition that Shared Lives care is not a 24/7 service for those that open their homes long-term. We released new independent research which shows there is wide appetite for shared living and Shared Lives households met with one of our strongest political supportersSign up to my not-so regular newsletters

  • Community celebrations across the UK
  • New research shows appetite for shared living
  • Shared Lives carers meet Shadow Minister for Health and Social Care

At a time when connecting with others has never been as difficult, or as important, we were so proud to show our network walking on through the storm in the premiere of a special film already seen by thousands. If you’ve not seen it yet, let your spirits be lifted and treat yourself to four minutes of pure joy.

Community celebrations around the UK
Across the network, schemes and Shared Lives families got together to celebrate in virtual tea parties, using new skills from our social media training sessions. It was great to see the momentum all over the country – silly hats in the West Midlands with CVT, a beautiful chorus of voices singing “You’ve got a friend in me” in Surrey, handmade cakes in Stoke,  visiting carers with gifts in Bury, bingo and quizzes in Ayrshire – to name just a few.

Kirklees shared a hand-written note from a person supported in Shared Lives which everyone loved, probably because it talked about feeling “more grown-up” rather than “building independence” in professional jargon. Shared Lives Hertfordshire created fantastic, polished videos introducing Shared Lives matches in a warm, intimate and informative way – like Michael and Linda’s story. Linda’s not very good at the Wii, but she’s fun and has changed Michael’s life so that he “doesn’t feel alone anymore.”

Our own social media performance saw a huge spike in engagement – over 1000% increase on Facebook and Twitter- which was a timely boost given our recent research which told us that nearly 70% of people haven’t heard of Shared Lives and Homeshare.

New research shows appetite for shared living

New research by Survation, of 1000 people, also showed that there is appetite for shared living – 65% of people would prefer to share their homes with someone of similar interests to them, and 37% of people who live alone would consider sharing their homes with someone of similar interests, once coronavirus has been fully addressed.

Over half of the respondents to the poll felt that the government hadn’t done enough to address the issue of loneliness during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are proud that Shared Lives and Homeshare are still open for business and are helping to combat isolation. We call on government to help the people who want to live together for mutual support to reach the solutions that already exist and recognise that home is one of the safest places to be, especially with someone who’s always looking out for you.

Shared Lives carers meeting with Shadow Minister for Social care
We’ve been working hard to promote shared living across the political spectrum, and we were delighted to meet up with the Shadow Minister for Social Care, Liz Kendall MP, and Shared Lives households (pictured above), to share the experiences of real Shared Lives with her. We’ve also invited the Minister of Social Care to meet with Shared Lives carers and working with DHSC, LGA and ADASS on PPE, pay and restarting day support/short breaks.

Kendall is a long-standing supporter of Shared Lives and said that the Zoom session was “the most uplifting conversation I’ve had during this crisis.” She will help us to press the government on issues such as PPE, respite and day services re-opening, and in the long term supports our vision of a different way of living with and looking after each other.

Last week I wrote about how the conspicuous Continue reading

Whatever it takes

The original assumptions in planning for COVID-19 in the UK were that a very large number of people would get it. It was known at that time that it was deadly for many older and disabled people. Presumably the plan was to keep older and disabled people, particularly hundreds of thousands of older people who receive social care, safe from infection. That could only ever have been done through a massive programme of safety equipment (PPE) and testing. That we are still playing catch-up on PPE and only a tiny number of the people who care for older and disabled people have been tested, gives the impression that as a nation we have abandoned a whole section of society to this illness. Nearly 1,000 people a day are dying in hospital, but we don’t even know how many are dying in care homes – don’t they count?

The government has, quite rightly, said it will do ‘whatever it takes’ to keep the NHS going through COVID-19. This isn’t just a message from Health ministers but from the Chancellor and the PM. We have not yet heard ‘whatever it takes’ to keep social care going. Put another way, we need the government to say, from the top down, ‘We will do whatever it takes to keep older and disabled people alive’.