Learning Disabilities & Autism News

National call for short-term carers to work at home

UK charity, Shared Lives Plus is calling on the generosity of caring public to open their homes to someone who needs support.

In a reverse of typical care services, the new roles, created by over 145 local services who are members of UK charity, Shared Lives Plus, are the ‘ultimate post-pandemic job opportunity’ and point towards the much discussed topic of the future of social care, as they see carers provide personalised Shared Lives support in the carer’s home – paid on either a long-term, respite or day-support basis. With fuel prices making typical social care roles unaffordable, opening your own home to care for someone, could be an option for many more people.

During the pandemic, thousands of Shared Lives carers supported people without breaks. Since the closure of many day centres and austerity cuts to social care, some local authorities have been unable to offer a break for the person supported by Shared Lives carers, or the carer themselves. During Shared Lives week 2022, the UK awareness week, the charity is launching a carer recruitment campaign to help councils offer statutory breaks that benefit people being supported, and their Shared Lives carer.

Jayne Wilson, interim CEO says, “We know there are hundreds of thousands of people who want to generously offer their time and homes to others who need support to do everyday tasks.

“We are looking for people who want a flexible and rewarding role, using skills from their previous experience, to offer a regular afternoon, day, or week to help give people a break from their usual living and care arrangements – and you’ll be paid a fee. Our members, Shared Lives services offer all the support you’ll need when you’re in a new role, and make sure that you and the person you support enjoy it.

“It’s essential that local authorities have the funding to recognise the invaluable support that Shared Lives carers offer – and increase breaks for people who are supported by Shared Lives carers, and carers themselves, avoiding more costly social care services.”

“We are committed to strengthening communities, where people who draw on social care and Shared Lives carers are well-supported. We want anyone who can offer other carers in their community, a few hours or weeks a year, to get in touch with their nearest Shared Lives service.”

During lockdown, Shared Lives carers continued to support people to live safely within carers’ family homes with very few incidences of Covid transmission or fatalities, confirming its rating as the best quality and safest form of social care as rated by inspectors. However Shared Lives care was never designed to be 24/7.

Richard Stockton, Shared Lives carer in West Sussex, says, “It’s called Shared Lives because that’s exactly what we do – every part of our day is shared with the people we support. I’ve supported Josh, who has Down’s Syndrome, for one year now, and my extended family and friends love him too!

It’s the most rewarding role I have had in the last 20 years of working in the care sector. I’d recommend Shared Lives to all it’s so flexible and the rewards speak for themselves.

“Respite breaks are essential for our wellbeing and the wellbeing of those we support. Dipping your toe into Shared Lives for a short time is a great way to help people and carers living near you – you’ll not regret the reward of seeing someone grow in confidence and happiness.”

At a time when Shared Lives care is receiving national interest from government, UK charity Shared Lives Plus have cited the lack of breaks as a major cause of loss or breakdown of Shared Lives arrangements and as the reason Shared Lives carers leave the sector. From UK figures, Shared Lives Plus estimate just 70% local authorities deliver the recommended four weeks, 15% of local authorities offer between two and four weeks, and 10% offer nothing. Worryingly, the membership charity have seen an increase in councils removing respite breaks entirely due to their financial pressures.

Wilson adds, “In the severely under-funded social care sector, Shared Lives care stands out as the best quality service for people who need extra support to live well, and saves councils significant cash when they invest in carer recruitment, referrals and respite breaks to make it sustainable. We urge councils across the UK to take up the government’s offer to expand and grow this life-changing social care service and save money doing it.”

Shared Lives Plus have launched this national campaign to recruit more short-term Shared Lives carers who are looking for flexible roles around family or other work commitments and can offer much needed short-term breaks to strengthen the UK’s best quality and safest social care service.

Across the UK, there are 8,000 Shared Lives Carers supporting more than 10,000 adults, through 145 different schemes. Local Shared Lives services are fully regulated by the Care Quality Commission, which consistently rates the model as the best quality and safest form of adult social care, with 95% of all Shared Lives schemes rated as good or outstanding.

Shared Lives carers, who come from a range of careers are carefully matched with their guests and encouraged to help them develop practical skills, build self-esteem and establish new friendships and social networks in their own neighbourhood, which creates a sense of belonging and community. Training and a support network are provided to all Shared Lives carers.

To become a Shared Lives carer, you must be over 18 years of age and don’t need specific qualifications, just the right values, commitment and of course, a spare bedroom.

To find out more about becoming a Shared Lives carer, go to https://sharedlivesplus.org.uk/start-your-shared-life/

Edel Harris

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