What makes a perfect Shared Lives carer?

This week (14-18 June) it’s been Shared Lives Week at PSS; a time to get together and celebrate our fantastic carers and the people we support and to think about how we can make Shared Lives better in the future. The great thing about Shared Lives is that it supports people from so many different backgrounds – people with learning disabilities, those experiencing mental health challenges, new parents with support needs, people moving on from foster care and those leaving hospital who need a bit of support to find their feet before returning home – all with their own unique passions, skills and ambitions. Gathering these people together along with with our carers who come from many walks of life – some with a social care background, others just starting out – always results in such lively and interesting conversation about people and about how to make our social care services great!

To mark the occasion we had lots of awesome and interactive activities happening all week over Zoom, bringing together our people from all over England and North Wales. Carers and people we support got a chance to meet and learn from other people like them in Merseyside, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, North Wales, Manchester and Wirral and to have a spot of fun too!

Some of our Shared Lives Week highlights were:

  • Ready, Steady, Cook – focussing on healthy eating for people supported by Shared Lives and gaining skills in the kitchen 0 as well as enjoying some delicious recipes.
  • Meet the Animals with Welsh Mountain Zoo – a step inside the zoo from the comfort of your armchair.
  • Help us shape the future of Shared Lives training – to support our carers to be the very best they can be in their roles.
  • Introduction to Makaton sign language – to support people to communicate better with the person they support and their friends.
  • Jungle Body dance work-out – to get those positive endorphins flowing and to support positive mental health and wellbeing.
  • What makes a perfect Shared Lives carer? To work with the people we support to pin down the characteristics and values that make a perfect carer.
  • Meet the experts – a chance to meet people who we support who help us to recruit the right Shared Lives carers.
  • Meet Carol – a Shared Lives carer who has been with PSS for thirty years! We started Shared Lives in 1978 so you can imagine there has been lots of changes in all that time and Carol has been around to see so many of them.
  • Babies can’t wait – a session about supporting people with support needs to look after their baby.
  • Staying safe on the internet – with a particular focus on online safety for people with learning disabilities.

What makes a perfect Shared Lives carer?

A firm favourite amongst those involved and a session which really got us all thinking was about us identifying the perfect carer together. Our Shared Lives carers all come from different backgrounds with different experiences and skills to offer and that’s how we’re able to find great matches for people with different needs and goals. We do our best to place people with a carer who we think they’ll get on like a house on fire with. Our carers don’t need relevant experience or training, we offer all of that as part of becoming a carer but we do ask that they embody each and every one of our PSS values; they must be big-hearted, open-minded, determined, genuine and professional.

But, that’s what we think. The best people to decide what makes a great Shared Lives carer is obvious really; it’s the people we support who know exactly what great support should look like and who have experience of sharing their life with someone who makes it more fulfilling – that’s what our amazing Shared Lives carers do.

We got lots of fantastic comments from the people we support on what a great carer should look like during this session – all of which paint a picture of someone truly awesome. Here’s what some of those involved had to say:

And some more words and phrases that people used to describe the perfect Shared Lives carer were:

Proud to care


Help me to be independent 

Show my gratitude 

Perfect life 

Like a mum 

Important part of my life 

Very thankful 


Make me safe 



One of a kind 


Appreciate all you do for me 


One I can always depend on 

Thank you 




We’re delighted to see that the people we support already feel so happy in their Shared Lives families. The advice that they give us will help us to recruit even more inspiring carers.

Think you’re made of the right stuff to be a carer? Find out more about becoming a Shared Lives carer: www.SharedLivescarers.com.