Shared Lives care takes a person-centred approach, enabling people to live the fulfilling life that they choose. Hope Lightowler, 24 who currently lives in Liverpool, has made a huge impact on shaping her own Shared Lives experience, as well as helping to improve outcomes for other people.
I have lived with the same Shared Lives carer for nearly four years, and it has enabled me to move away from my family and start to grow my independence. I had used Shared Lives before but only for respite so was it scary to then move to a completely different area that I knew nothing about over an hour and a half away from my family, but it was the best decision I made!
Since being in Shared Lives, I have experienced incredible changes in my life. When I first came to live in a Shared Lives placement, I was a selective mute so used an app on my phone to communicate. I also couldn’t leave the house on my own and had been relying on my mum and carers to help me get out of the house – this is a completely different person from current me! I have completed travel training and can now travel to my family home on public transport alone.
I also regularly use public transport to go out on my own whether that be to go to work or just to the supermarket to buy baking supplies. I can now talk to everyone apart from when in an autistic shutdown – which is a major improvement. Being in Shared Lives has enabled me to build my own community; I joined my local Autism group for adults and have made several really good mates there. I look forward to going out and interacting with people which previously I couldn’t stand and would avoid at all costs.
My growth in confidence has led to me being involved in supporting and helping others in Shared Lives, I now volunteer at PSS in Liverpool (my local Shared Lives scheme offices) on front of house, speaking to ‘strangers’ on a regular basis.
I have taken part in a trustee’s meeting to promote the importance of volunteering at PSS. I have really felt at home and accepted by the team and have been given lots of exciting opportunities. Me and some of my fellow ambassadors are trying to set up a group for local people who use Shared Lives to create a social group but where we also discuss important topics including advocacy, talking about healthy relationships, consent, and other areas which are so important for adults but specifically those with vulnerabilities to know about. Knowledge is power and not being engaged in these conversations only makes us more vulnerable and more likely to be manipulated or abused.
I’ve enjoyed networking with other ambassadors and working with them to improve Shared Lives for others, I have felt very able to share my views on how it could be improved or how it could be made more accessible. I think this is so important for organisations to listen to those drawing on your support as these are the people who are most affected by it and can give you honest feedback about what works and what doesn’t. This is one of the very positive points I like about Shared Lives Plus and PSS as many services just give surveys out once a year and then pat themselves on the back because they’ve collected feedback. However, I feel PSS and Shared Lives Plus take a ve I think this is so important for organisations to listen to those drawing on your support as these are the people who are most affected by it and can give you honest feedback about what works and what doesn’t.ry different approach; they truly believe and work towards co-production.