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Shared Lives gives confidence and independence to Chris and Gaynor

Published: Wednesday, 8th November 2023

An adult social care initiative promoting independence for adults who need support and offers them the chance to be part of a family, is celebrating five years since it was launched.

Shared Lives is a form of social care in which people, who need support to live their lives to the full, such as those with learning disabilities, are matched with compatible Shared Lives carers and families who will support them in their family and community life. Carers are paid a fixed allowance rather than an hourly rate and have access to benefits including tax discounts.

The initiative, is run by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, after previously been successfully rolled out in other areas of the country.

In many cases, the person moves in and becomes a permanent part of the carer’s household, although Shared Lives is also used as regular short breaks for unpaid family carers.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated this type of supportive adult social care as the safest and most cost-effective in the UK. Across the country, 11,880 people use Shared Lives.

An example of how Shared Lives can work in Stoke-on-Trent is bond formed between Chris and Paul and Denice Condliffe. Chris is 57 and has learning disabilities. As a result, he needs extra support to develop his independence to do daily activities

Paul and Denice’ Shared Lives journey began when Denice suggested to consider becoming carers. Chris began having short breaks with the family, but moved in with them after his mother passed away.

Paul and Denice have helped Chris to develop new skills and live a more fulfilled life; including being in attendance for their wedding in the Isle of Wight.

The couple have since become Shared Lives carers for Gaynor, who started by having short breaks with them in 2022.

Paul and Denice were also highly-commended in the Your Heroes Awards in 2022, in the Carer of the Year category.

Denice Condliffe said:

“Shared Lives is very rewarding for Chris, Gaynor and us. It’s a great experience seeing their independence and confidence grow.

“This service, in my opinion, is the best service out there for people with learning disabilities as it works perfectly for both clients and carers.”

Councillor Duncan Walker, cabinet member for adult services said:

“We are delighted to be celebrating five years of the Shared Lives service. The example of Paul, Denice, Chris and Gaynor’s journey is just one of many across Stoke-on-Trent of how both carers and individuals can benefit from Shared Lives.

“Chris and Gaynor have both been given opportunities they may not have had if they weren’t part of Paul and Denice’s family.

“Shared Lives is a truly unique service that is person-centric and makes such a difference to carers and the individuals. The people and families can form long-lasting relationships and enjoy a full life together.”

Shared Lives have a dedicated carer support team for all carer members with resources such as training, information, advice and one-to-one support.

There are also opportunities for carers and families to meet and speak to others who are a part of the scheme, through Shared Lives carers groups within local areas and national carer events.

For more information, please contact the Shared Lives team on: 01782 235000 or sharedlives@stoke.gov.uk