As though he hadn’t been away

This is a guest blog from Claire Morphet of Rochdale’s PossAbilities CIC Shared Lives scheme. Claire writes:

In April of this year I was approached by Harold’s daughter Lynne who gave up her job as a college lecturer to look after her dad. She has had her house adapted to support his needs and completely changed her lifestyle. Previously, when Lynne had to go in hospital, Harold went for respite in a nursing home. Although Lynne had invested many hours researching and visiting nursing homes, when Harold returned home, she described her dad as ‘losing more of himself’. Now, Lynne’s wedding was planned, but she had intense fears of leaving her dad in a traditional respite setting again.

The first time I went out to visit Harold and Lynne, Lynne described her dad as she remembered him: an amazing dad and grandad who loved children. When Harold greeted me and gave me a little dance, I was moved by the kindness in his face.  Throughout the time I spent with Lynne and her dad the love that she feels for him was evident. We chatted about Shared Lives and Lynne immediately put her trust in us. What Lynne and I experienced over the next couple of months was one of the hardest professional journeys I have taken and possibly one of the toughest journeys Lynne has had to make. During these months Harold was introduced to two Shared Lives carers, but both had to withdraw from providing support following changes in their own circumstances. Matches do not always work out, but it’s our role to keep trying until the right match is found.

Karen lives very near to Harold and visits the same Tesco that Harold regularly enjoys to visit. Her husband, Vincent, remembered Harold as a former next door neighbour when he was a child. During the two weeks that Harold stayed with Karen, we kept in regular contact. Following the short break, Karen said, “It was an absolute Continue reading

Developing Shared Lives holidays and breaks

We are really pleased that we have been awarded Department of Health funding to develop a way of offering Shared Lives as holidays and breaks to people across local authority boundaries, in different areas of the country. There are Shared Lives carers who can provide short breaks living in seaside towns, national parks and in the heart of large cities. Others may live in areas which someone would like to visit because they have family there. The new scheme will mean that people will be able to look at an online catalogue to find out whether there is an approved Shared Lives carer in the area in which they would like to take a break or holiday. We will develop ways of Shared Lives schemes working together to ensure that the right matching and safeguarding processes are carried out before the break. These holidays will be a much cheaper and more homely alternative to visiting an expensive residential facility and we expect that some people will want to return to visit the same family year after year.

We are recruiting for a twelve-month project development worker to work with Shared Lives carers and schemes to develop matching, safeguarding, inter-scheme working and payment policies to enable safe and affordable Shared Lives arrangements to take place across county boundaries. The advert is here.

Guardian article now online

It is a regular weekend treat for families across the UK – a splash and a swim at the local leisure centre. But for Nigel Webb and Stephen Gilbert, who have both just celebrated their 50th birthdays, it is a brand new experience. Not only are they learning to swim for the first time, but they are doing it as part of a family. And next year they will be notching up another first when they when they go on a family holiday to Majorca….

Read the rest of this Guardian Society article on Shared Lives, by Linda Jackson at

Shared Lives again shown to be the best form of care

Shared Lives is once again England’s best-rated form of care, support and accommodation for older and disabled people, according to the annual report of The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the government’s social care inspectors for England. This report also shows that nearly half a million older and disabled people receive support in care homes in England alone. Whereas only around 20,000 are supported through Shared Lives.

Here are the stats for 2010. For the top “3 Star” ratings: 38% Shared Lives; 19% Care homes for older people; 23% care homes for younger people; 21% home care; 19% nursing agencies. So nearly twice as many Shared Lives schemes received top marks as other forms of support.

83% of all forms of support were rated good or excellent, whereas 95% of Shared Lives schemes Continue reading

Shared Lives and the city

With all my anecdotes about Shared Lives seeming to involve farming and livestock, I thought it was high time I spent some time at an urban Shared Lives scheme. The team and Shared Lives carers of Haringey council Adult Placement gave me a very warm welcome. As usual, listening to Shared Lives carers talking about their lives reminded me of how easy my job is and what a privilege it is to be involved in Shared Lives.

If there is one thing that you hear time and time again from Shared Lives carers, it’s “s/he is just one of the family”. That was evident from Mrs H, Continue reading

Support for care leavers in Scotland

Back up to Scotland for the national conference, organised by the NAAPS Scotland team, Anne and Else, along with the Scotland Committee. Great to see Andrew Lowe, next year’s Association of Directors of Social Work singing along to a verse of “Consider yourself part of the family”, led by Jean, who discovered her singing voice and much more besides through a relationship with her Shared Lives carer Helena, which was self-evidently what Shared Lives is all about. Helena decided that the best way to help Jean lose weight was to join her in a diet – just one of the ways in which Helena was putting heart and soul into supporting Jean to build the self-care skills she needed to move towards living in her own place. Or as Helena put it, we support each other. The conference was well-supported: not only did Andrew give a thoughtful and impressive keynote (I’m grateful to him for the phrase, “the dignity of risk” amongst others), Jean MacLellan, Deputy Director, Adult Care and Support Division in the Primary and Community Care Directorate of the Scottish Government, chaired the event brilliantly.

Jamie talked to us about his experience of the Fife Council Supported Lodgings scheme, which provides Shared Lives-registered support to young people who are leaving care. In Scotland, the average age for care leavers to leave home Continue reading

In-house or out-sourced?

I really enjoyed visiting ASA (Adults Supporting Adults) Lincolnshire this week ( ASA has 60 Shared Lives carers offering long term and respite support to around 70 people. They also provide 4000 hours per month of support for people wishing to remain in their own homes or develop new independence. 12 of the Shared Lives carers just support people with dementia. As usual, meeting the people who use Shared Lives and the Shared Lives carers was the highlight. Continue reading