February 24, 2020
Monday 24th February – Sunday 1st March is #YouCanCareWeek, a week that’s all about celebrating how rewarding a job caring for someone can be. There’s no question that it takes a very special sort of person to give the gift of caring but it can be truly life changing for the carer and the person they are supporting.
Our #SharedLives carers open up their homes and their hearts to people who may not feel ready or able to live on their own. They can support them to find their feet, to get to grips with new skills and to enjoy their life in whatever way suits them best – it’s truly up to them. Some people compare Shared Lives to fostering but the big difference is that it’s for adults who have their own independence and who want to embrace this with the support of a carer who they can turn to whenever they need to.
Shared Lives supports many different types of people and our carers come from many different walks of life too. That’s one of the things that’s great about Shared Lives, there’s somebody for everyone and people are matched up based on the fact that they’re two peas in a pod. As a Shared Lives carer you can work from home, or the park, or the café or the bingo hall – wherever takes yours and the person you supports fancy really. And, you can support someone for a time that suits you. We have Shared Lives carers who’ve had people living with them for fifteen years, a real part of the family; Shared Days carers who care for people during the day in between the school run and everything in between. Changing someone’s life can fit around your life.
Shared Lives carers come from lots of different backgrounds. Previous social care experience isn’t essential because we provide extensive training, you’ll have your own PSS development worker to support you and access to a network of other carers just like you across the country. You might even meet some new mates when you become a carer, some good eggs with a shared passion for people. As a Shared Lives carer you could find yourself caring for someone who’s leaving hospital and isn’t quite ready or able to go back home, a young adult who’s recently left foster care or children’s services, an adult with a learning disability who wants their own freedom and independence, somebody with mental health struggles, a new parent who could do with some support and so many more people who would love that feeling of home.
The best people to tell you what Shared Lives is all about are the people using the service up and down the country and their carers, so for #YouCanCareWeek we thought we’d share some Shared Lives stories. If you’re interested in becoming a carer, visit makeyourself.org.uk.
Phil and Alison’s Shared Lives : Move on Together story
Phil and Alison live in Staffordshire. They had been fostering Paul* for a number of years. When Paul* turned 18, there wasn’t many options for supported living accommodation that suited him. He was settled in his home with Phil and Alison and really wanted to carry on living with them as an adult. This is when Phil and Alison heard about Shared Lives and the fact that they could carry on supporting Paul, backed up by our Shared Lives team and other carers nearby – they were delighted!
Phil and Alison got lots of training to support them in their transition from foster carers to adult carers. With Shared Lives they found time for a well-deserved break too. There’s other carers who can step in and offer respite for Paul* when they need it. He enjoys this freedom and change of scenery whilst they recharge their batteries. They’ve even managed to book in that city break they’ve been itching to do, knowing that Paul* is happy and supported without them. And the very best part is that they still get to play a big part in Paul’s life as he grows into an adult, takes on new challenges and leads his life his way; everyone’s happy!
Carol’s Shared Lives to Short Breaks story
Carol has been a Shared Lives carer in Liverpool for many years. She started as a carer not long after the scheme was set-up in 1979. She first welcomed people into her home who’d been living in institutions – as they were then called. After many years living in this environment where they had very little freedom they needed lots of support to find their feet. Thankfully Carol is the big hearted type that we’ve always recruited for Shared Lives. She’s always been open to supporting people from many different walks of life and with various levels of need.
You don’t need tons of social care experience to be a Shared Lives carer, you just need to be a people person and have the right set of values, just like Carol. We recruit all our Shared Lives carers and PSS staff on our values basis. You’ve got to be genuine, big-hearted, open-minded, determined and professional to welcome someone into your home. And that doesn’t mean you don’t need a tremendous level of skill. We provide extensive training and support for our carers to make sure they’re offering the very best support around.
Carol’s now retired as a Shared Lives carer but, because she loved the job so much, she still offers Shared Lives : Short Breaks, providing respite care from her home in Liverpool. People come and stay with her and enjoy their home from home whilst their full-time carer grabs a holiday or just some me-time. Being a Shared Lives carer isn’t easy but it can fit around your life.
Kevin’s Shared Lives : Home from Hospital story
Kevin is supported by his Shared Lives carer in Merseyside. Kevin struggled with substance misuse in the past, his alcohol addiction was really taking over his life and he was losing control. Family bonds had sadly been broken, he had lost his job and Kevin really needed some support to turn his life around.
One day, Kevin had an accident and injured his brain which meant he was in hospital for a long time. The impact of this could have been devastating but there was a silver lining. Whilst in hospital, Kevin was told about Shared Lives : Home from Hospital. He didn’t feel able to go back to living at home on his own and a carer could support him to overcome his addiction and make a fresh start. Kevin began living with his carers who worked hard to support his rehabilitation, he moved to a new area, made some new friends and started some new hobbies that really had a positive impact on his life.
Kevin has enjoyed Shared Lives so much that he’s decided to stay with the service. He’s moved in with a new carer now and enjoys spending time in the garden with the chickens and walking the dogs. This slower paced lifestyle is something he’s always dreamed of. Kevin has also made amends with members of his family, supported by his carer. He spent last Christmas with his family, sober for the first time and was able to enjoy the day. Kevin is still recovering but, with the support of his carer, he feels stronger and more able to take the next step in his life.
You could support somebody who’s left hospital to recover in their own time in your home. This could be by helping them around the house and taking their medication or offering a listening ear and some emotional support. A stay in hospital can be traumatic and, especially when someone doesn’t have a support network, the recovery process can take a longer time than it needs to.
Denise and Stephen’s Shared Lives : long term placement story
Stephen and Denise are in a relationship and live together with their Shared Lives carers, Sue and Bob, in the Midlands. Their arrangement is long-term because they both feel happier living with a carer rather than living on their own. Both Stephen and Denise have a learning disability and get support from their carers with things like managing their money. They lead a very independent life, getting out and about together, having a wander, shopping and grabbing a nice dinner out. They also enjoy spending time their carers Sue and Bob. They enjoy a drink at the pub with their carers, going on holidays to Greece and walking Sky and Jax (the dogs) as a big, happy family.
Lots of our carers have a spare room and like the idea of working from home whilst making a real difference to somebody’s life. The people they support are able to do things for themselves and even help around the house with the dishes and hanging out the washing. They might just need that somebody to turn to, somebody to offer emotional guidance and who can support them to accomplish the things in life that they really want to achieve. If you’ve got these people skills, becoming a Shared Lives carer could be the job for you.
Chloe and Natasha’s Shared Lives: Move On story
Chloe and Natasha are sisters. They live with their carers, Chris and Dave, in Staffordshire. The girls were in foster care for six years, living in the same placement.
Natasha moved in with Dave and Chris in August 2018 and then Chloe followed in December 2018 when she turned 18. Chloe thought she would be staying with her foster carers but they were unable to keep caring for her. She was really disappointed that she couldn’t stay living with them but she’s now happier than ever living in her Shared Lives family.
Chloe’s got a volunteering job at Barnardo’s and a boyfriend and loves going out with her friends. Both girls go to college and are supported by their carers to manage their money and their emotions. Chris and Dave are so excited to see just how far the girls have come since moving in with them when they were very shy and timid. And they’re all super excited for their next big family holiday together. They love their time together in the sunshine.
As a Shared Lives : Move On carer, you could support a young adult to develop the skills they need to move out into their own home whenever they feel ready. You could watch someone grow and blossom into the adult they’ve also wanted to be. You could do all of this working from home or on your jollys with your new, happy family!
Liz and Rob’s long term and Short Breaks story
Liz and Rob are carers in Staffordshire. They’ve been carers for eleven years and support two young men who live in their home with them and their family. The people they care for get lots of independence to get out and about and do the things in life they enjoy most and, at the end of an active day, get to come back to Liz and Rob’s home to relax and feel safe and supported.
Liz and Rob’s children have grown up and flown the nest now, so they’ve got some space in their home (and in their hearts) for people who may not feel able to live on their own. They support people who need full-time care and also those who want to stay for a short break. They enjoy entertaining, barbecues in the garden and watching movies as a happy, extended family.
Fran’s Shared Days story
Fran is 55 – the same age as her carer, Claudia.
Fran’s been supported by Claudia for two years. After experiencing a stroke, Fran lost her mobility and began using a wheelchair. Because of her stroke it now takes Fran longer to respond and she has lost a lot of confidence because of this. She also needed a lot of support to move around and do the things in life she enjoyed most. Luckily enough – Claudia had some spare time and lots of skills to support someone during the day and, even more luckily enough, she and Fran had lots in common.
Since being supported by Claudia, Fran is now able to use an electronic wheelchair and has got progressively better at directing herself about. Just like Claudia, Fran enjoys arts and crafts, visiting National Trust parks and just feeling the breeze on her skin. Claudia, who’s always been an outdoorsy type loves the fact that she can now spend her free time seeing the sights she loves the most and getting some exercise whilst supporting Fran too and enjoying her dry sense of humour! These two are both gaining a lot from Shared Days and have a lovely friendship that’s plain to see.
If you’ve got a bit of spare time between dropping the kids off, on your days off or alongside working from home, Shared Days could really support you to feel a massive sense of purpose during your down time and also give someone else much more than a day out.
If you’re interested in becoming a carer, visit makeyourself.org.uk.