What is Shared Lives?
PSS Shared Lives is a bit like fostering, but with the big difference that it’s for people over 16 (or over 18 in Wales) who want to live as independently as possible. It’s a completely flexible support service that can work for people from all walks of life, with all levels of need.
The service is provided by specially-recruited and trained Shared Lives carers who share our values and put the people we support first, empowering them to reach their goals.
What do we offer?
With Shared Lives, someone we support can go and live with their Shared Lives carer and their family, or one of our carers can support someone during the daytime only. Support can be provided on a short- term basis or a long-term basis – and the whole service is personalised to each person who uses our service from start to finish.
Our service allows us to meet people where they are in life, and support them as much or as little as they want or need to be supported. We offer six different Shared Lives services designed to suit people who have a wide variety of needs and goals.
Live-in: Shared Lives Live-in arrangements work for people who would like support whilst living full-time with a Shared Lives carer, in the carer’s family home. Someone could live with their Shared Lives carer for a year while they learn the skills they need to live independently, or they could live with them for several years (we’ve set up arrangements that have lasted over twenty happy years) – it all depends on what the person receiving support wants and needs, and what the Shared Lives carer can provide.
Short Breaks: from time-to-time, people who receive support from a carer and the carer themselves may need a bit of a break – and that’s where our Short Breaks service comes in. We give people who need support the chance to go and stay with one of our Shared Lives carers for a short period of time while their usual carer takes a break. This offers the person receiving the support a break from their usual routine and a bit of a change of scenery while still receiving the same professional care, but it also means their usual carer has a rest from supporting that person. These arrangements are organised with everyone involved well in advance.
Home from Hospital: our Home from Hospital service supports people who are due to come out of hospital after a stay, but who don’t yet want to or feel able to live independently. Instead of sticking around in hospital longer than necessary, they can go and stay with one of our Shared Lives carers for a short period of time, until they get back on their feet again or until another care package is put in place. The Shared Lives carer is there to help them gain their independence back – and to help with their recovery.
Shared Days: our Shared Days arrangements are all about giving people the opportunity to live their days how they want to, by sharing them with one of our Shared Lives carers. Our carers support people to reach their goals, either out-and-about or at the carer’s home; helping people feel connected to their communities and stay well and happy.
Moving On: When children who have been in foster care or residential care reach the age of 16 (age 18 in Wales), they transition into adult care services or have the opportunity to head out on their own and live independently. They might not be ready to live alone, or might not feel comfortable with moving into adult care. With Move On arrangements, these young people can go and live with a Shared Lives carer who will support them as much or as little as they need to help them meet their objectives – whatever they may be. These arrangements are usually short-term, but are open-ended.
Moving On Together: If a foster carer wants to continue providing support to a young person when they reach 16 (or 18 in Wales), and if the young person also wants to continue being supported by their foster carer, we can transition them both into our Shared Lives scheme. Move On Together transitions the foster carer into becoming a Shared Lives carer, and therefore allows the young person to continue being supported by them for a short period of time until they’re ready to take the next step or until they reach their goals. These arrangements are open-ended, but tend to be short-term.
Who can use PSS Shared Lives?
PSS Shared Lives provides support for people who can’t at the time they start using our service, support themselves fully.
That means adults of all ages and all levels of need.
Lots of different people use our Shared Lives service, from all different walks of life. We know work really well for people who:
- have a learning or physical/sensory disability;
- are a new mum or dad with support needs and would like some help to learn parenting skills;
- are seeking asylum in the UK;
- are experiencing a mental health problem;
- are recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction;
- might be moving from a different type of care, like foster care;
- have come out of hospital and need a hand while they fully recover and regain their independence; or
- already receive care but want to have a bit more choice about how it works.
But the ways we can support people to live a happy and fulfilled life can be helpful to anyone who needs some support; we don’t discriminate.
How do Shared Lives carers support people?
Shared Lives carers empower people to reach their goals. They do this by supporting people in the way they want to be supported – whether that’s with practical, everyday things and personal care or whether it’s emotional support they need.
The ways our carers can support people are as varied and unique as the people we support.
Matching our Shared Lives carers to the people we support
Each of our carers is carefully matched with the person they’re supporting based on what the person we’re supporting needs, their lifestyles, the carer’s home and their personalities.
The match-making process is done by a specialist member of our team who will monitor any matches made from the beginning, and everyone will have the chance to meet and spend some time together before anything is set in stone.
This helps to make sure that both the carer and the person using the service feel happy before the arrangement is made.
We review each arrangement six-weeks in to make sure things are going well for both the carer and the person being supported. If there are any difficulties, we’ll work through them. If it’s still really not working or if there are any concerns at that point, we’ll end the arrangement and make another match for the person we’re supporting.
- is a cost-effective form of care, provided in the community;
- is personalised to each person who uses the service – meaning they receive care that is tailored to them;
- is incredibly safe and carefully monitored by social care experts at PSS and the CQC;
- reduces social isolation;
- encourages people to live independently within the safety of a family home and learn new ways to be self-sufficient;
- helps to reduce bed blocking in hospitals by getting people back on their feet again safely;
- helps people stay in touch with their family, friends and communities while they receive support; and
- leads to improved wellbeing and physical health.
Read more about the impact PSS Shared Lives has on the people we support.
Why is PSS Shared Lives different?
We focus our Shared Lives service on choice and independence; our carers and the people they support navigate life together, and the carer provides as much or as little support as the person they’re caring for needs. We encourage each individual using the service to get involved in deciding where they live, and each carer is carefully matched with the person they’re supporting. This makes sure that both the carer and the person using the service feel happy before the arrangement is made.
PSS actually developed Shared Lives – the first service of its kind in Liverpool – in the 70s, but now it’s a nationwide initiative run by many different organisations (ours is the best, of course) and with its own membership body, Shared Lives Plus. The Shared Lives model provides nearly 20% of support for adults with a learning disability in the UK.
Where do we run PSS Shared Lives?
We provide Shared Lives in:
- Wales (for people over 18 years)
Who are our Shared Lives carers?
Our Shared Lives carers are people who come from all walks of life. Some people have had experience of caring for others in the past, maybe as part of their career; whereas others we train up from scratch. Some have grown-up children who’ve left home, some have large families who help to care, others live just with the person they support.
First and foremost, our carers are committed to improving the lives of others. They are caring, compassionate people who are willing to go that little bit further to make a difference in someone else’s life.
Do Shared Lives carers get paid?
Yes, Shared Lives carers receive a support fee for their time. The amount received depends on the needs of the person they are caring for. People using this service also pay a set amount towards the family food budget and household bills. In long-term placements, they are also helped to manage their own tenancy and to pay rent, usually through partial or full housing benefit.
How do we recruit carers?
Our Shared Lives carer recruitment process is very robust and has been continually developed since we started delivering the services 40 years ago – so we like to think we’re pretty good at it.
At PSS, our values and culture are really strong and a crucial part of our recruitment process. Our five values were developed by a team of staff and carers and represent the personal values needed by all PSS people, whether they manage our services or provide frontline care.
All potential Shared Lives carers go through an eight-step process:
- An initial meeting with one of our Shared Lives development workers
- Completion of a detailed application form
- Getting to know the applicant, their home and DBS checks
- Preparation of a personal profile for evaluation
- Assessment report produced by one of our Shared Lives development workers
- Engagement in PSS events and involvement with other carers
- Panel meeting for approval decision
- Formal training starts
We’ve got our own Shared Lives carer recruitment website: www.sharedlivescarers.com.
Monitoring our Shared Lives carers
All of our carers receive regular monitoring visits as well as a full annual review. We also complete regular reviews with those placed within services and provide as many opportunities as we can for the people who use our services, their family and their friends to tell us if they ever have any concerns.
Gill is a 78-year-old lady with a learning disability. She was referred to Shared Lives by her niece. Gill had lived with her mum all her life and in later years, with her sister Jane in the Vauxhall area of Liverpool. Gill and Jane had shared interests, went everywhere together and shared the same circle of friends. They were the best of friends. Unfortunately, Jane died, leaving Gill in the house on her own.
Being on her own made Gill very nervous and anxious. Gill’s other family initially came together to give 24-hour care to Gill, but couldn’t maintain it as they had family and work commitments of their own. Gill has a strong bond with her family members and there is a lot of love and affection between them. They were very concerned about her future. Together they considered other forms of housing, such as supported accommodation and sheltered housing. Then they read about Shared Lives in the local newspaper and decided to make enquiries.
After discussing Gill’s situation with our Shared Lives Merseyside team and learning all about the benefits of Shared Lives, they agreed that this would be the best option for Gill; that she would feel safe and secure, and have the chance to thrive within a loving home environment.
When Gill was referred to Shared Lives, we worked with her to match her with carers who could meet her needs. Gill was used to having a big family and her house was the hub where all the family gathered, so on that basis Gill successfully matched with Eve who was already part of a Shared Lives arrangement and had someone she supported living with her as well as her teenage son.
Eve’s house is very lively and Gill is really enjoying living with her. She has surprised everyone with how well she has settled and how well she gets on with the other people who live at the house, including three cats and a dog. In fact, one of the cats has adopted Gill and has taken to sleeping on her bed, which she doesn’t mind at all! Gill is quite adventurous and is always willing to try out new places. She’s been on many trips supported by Eve whilst living at her house, including the Coronation Street Studio Tour, Disneyland Paris, Blackpool and Llandudno… she’s been busy! Gill has also requested to go on holiday abroad, which Eve is making plans for.
Gill’s family is still a big part of her life. They visit and talk to her regularly, and this is fully supported by Eve who recognised the importance for Gill to maintain those family relationships. The family feel happy that Gill has settled so well, had made new friendships and is receiving the care and support she needs. She’s really blossomed.
How to refer
We accept referrals from social care professionals, NHS teams, families and friends of adults with support needs and adults with support needs themselves.
If you’d like to make a referral, please get in touch with the team closest to you: