For Shared Lives week, Lesley Dixon, CEO of Person Shaped Support (PSS), which provides Shared Lives in a number of areas of the UK, writes:
PSS is a business with a heart that helps people change their lives for the better. We provide a range of health and social care services that help people from all different backgrounds get the most from their lives, and since we were founded in 1919, we’ve never stood still. We’re always looking for new ways to help – which, in 1978, led us to set up the UK’s first Shared Lives scheme.
As you may or may not know Shared Lives is a form of support where vulnerable adults and young people over 16 live at home with a specially recruited and trained carer and their family.
At the moment, 362 people use our Shared Lives scheme across our long-term, short breaks and day support schemes, and we currently have over 400 carers.
Shared Lives is a great option for everyone in need of some day-to-day support – whatever their needs may be. With over 400 carers, we can match people’s needs to the Shared Lives carers that can best support them, giving our service-users as much choice as possible.
- At the moment, 60% of the people who use our Shared Lives scheme have some form of learning disability.
- 7% of people using the scheme have mental health challenges.
- 10% are older people, who may be frail or need some extra day-to-day
- 8% suffer from dementia
- 5% have complex and risky behaviours.
When we met Josh, he had been using drugs and alcohol as a way of bonding with his dad, who also had a drug and alcohol addiction. Josh was recovering from a mental health breakdown, which resulted in him being sectioned. He came to live with one of our Shared Lives carers in Liverpool to help him recover from everything he’d been through. After about a year, Josh was feeling well enough to return home – and is now living with his mum. Last we heard, he had started attending college, which is great news and shows the powerful impact a Shared Lives placement can have on someone like Josh.
We’re also seeing more and more care-leavers and vulnerable young people using the scheme.
In terms of referrals into the service from social workers, GPs, etc – we’ve had quite a mixed experience. Some really see the potential benefits Shared Lives could have – others know less about it. As a result, we often have Shared Lives carers with vacancies just waiting to be filled – and that’s a real shame.
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