New scheme offers families the chance to share their homes and lives and support adults with learning disabilities

Published: Thursday, 1st November 2018

A new adult social care initiative promoting independence for adults who need support and offers them the chance to be part of a family, is set to be launched in Stoke-on-Trent.

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 amount rather than an hourly rate and have access to benefits including tax discounts.

The initiative, which is being run by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, has already 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 day support and 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 the city is the bond formed between Freddie and Carol’s family. Freddie is 21 and has learning disabilities. As a result of these, he needs extra support to develop his independence to do daily activities.

Carol and her family fostered Freddie in 2014, when he was 17. Along with her husband and her two children who are in their late 20s and 30s, Freddie has become an integral part of their family lives. So much so, they changed over to the Shared Lives scheme so that he could stay with them.

With the support of Carol’s family, Freddie is thriving. He has been able to go to college and is learning Turkish. He has been supported by the family to develop his independence by helping him to do daily tasks. For example, prior to being a part of Carol’s family, Freddie was unable to do his own shopping as he had not used money before. Now, he is supported to go shopping on his own.

Tracy Waring, who is a social worker at the council, said: “It’s fantastic how Freddie is truly part of the family. Carol has two other children and Freddie is like one of her own.

“He would not get this sense of being part of a family through any other option of support. Shared Lives gives Freddie security and somebody who can manage and oversee his care.

 

“It really is a fantastic option for both carers and the individual.”

Carol said: “Being a part of the Shared Lives scheme has been an amazing journey for my family and for Freddie. I get so much out of it, and it’s a pleasure to have Freddie as part of our family.

“We have supported him to do things that he would not be able to do on his own, such as daily tasks like doing the shopping and chores. He’s even done some work experience with my husband!

“Freddie has so much more confidence and now he is able to make his own decisions and make his own plans. We can’t imagine not having Freddie as part of our family now. He really brightens up our days!”

Freddie said: “I really like being part of Carol’s family. They help me with my shopping and take me on holiday with them. They’ve helped me to do lots of new things.”

Sharon, Freddie’s respite carer, said: “Freddie is a part of Carol’s family and it’s great that Shared Lives has enabled them to stay together. I hope that many more families in Stoke-on-Trent can benefit from the scheme.”

Leader of the council and cabinet member for health and social care, Councillor Ann James said: “It’s brilliant to see how well Freddie and Carol are doing. They are just one of many examples across Stoke-on-Trent and the UK of how both carers and individuals can benefit from Shared Lives.

“Freddie has been able to achieve a great amount, which he may not have had the opportunity to do so had he not been a part of Carol’s family.

“Shared Lives is a unique care service in that it is person-centred and makes a real difference to carers and the individuals. It allows individuals to develop vital skills and enjoy a full life, and it helps carers to manage the person’s care effectively. Most importantly, it allows people and families to form long-lasting relationships.”

 

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.

 

The following drop-in sessions are being held for anybody who is interested to learn more about Shared Lives and talk to the social care team:

5th November Hanley Job Centre 1pm-3pm

7th November Meir Health Centre 10am-1pm

12th November Hanley Job Centre 1pm-3pm

15th November Abbey Hill special School careers event 9am-3pm

16th November Stoke Market 9.30am-12.30pm

19th November Hanley Job Centre 1pm-3pm

20th November Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre 10am-1pm

23rd November Hanley Market 10am-2pm

12th December  1000 lives community event at the Bridge Centre 10am-3pm

 

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

For all media enquiries please contact  the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232395.