Read the stories of some of the people who have used our Shared Lives service.
These stories show the benefits to our Shared Lives carers and to the person who needed support. Find out how you could make a difference to someone's life.
Pauline and her husband Stuart have been Shared Lives carers for over ten years. They currently support Claire and Sarah who live with them as long term placements.
They live in a large detached house with their teenage daughter who has grown up sharing their home with adults with a learning disability.
Pauline likes Sarah and Claire to be as independent as possible. She encourages them to take responsibility for their own bedrooms and to help around the house. Pauline and Stuart have taught them how to use the kettle, microwave, and toaster and make light snacks in the kitchen. They have shown Sarah and Claire how to use public transport to go to local places, including what to do if they miss the bus or get off at the wrong stop. This means that they can go out on their own. Sarah also learnt basic literacy and how to take care of her finances on a college course.
Pauline and Stuart love to cook and they encourage Sarah and Claire to get involved. Pauline feels that baking is especially rewarding as they love to see an end product which they have created themselves. The whole household also has X Factor nights in as well as going ten pin bowling, to the cinema, theatre and meals out.
Pauline and Stuart receive an allowance from Lancashire County Council to support Sarah and Claire with personal care, medical appointments and daily living skills. Sarah and Claire contribute and Pauline and Stuart also receive housing benefit for Sarah and Claire from the local authority. These amounts combine to cover all food, living costs and a proportion of transport.
Pauline says: "Being a Shared Lives Carer is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Both Sarah and Claire have become part of our family; it’s a wonderful feeling knowing that I’ve made a big difference to someone’s life".
Adele is a 37-year-old woman with a mild learning disability. Her social worker referred her to Shared Lives because she could not live independently. She had previously been living with her partner but the relationship had broken down. Adele wanted to move closer to her family who she had lost touch with.
We found a Shared Lives carer, Margaret, who lived near Adele's family. The Shared Lives team thought that Margaret and Adele would be a good match because Margaret has an outgoing personality and had the confidence to motivate Adele.
Adele and Margaret got on very well. They met a few times and Adele stayed overnight before they both decided to make the move permanent. The Shared Lives team had regular contact with both Adele and Margaret throughout the introductions.
How Shared Lives helped
It was apparent from early on that Adele lacked structure and routine in her life. The Shared Lives Officers and Margaret looked at activities which Adele would enjoy and feel motivated by.
Adele was heavily overweight and suffering from depression. She was diagnosed with diabetes and other medical conditions related to her weight. Adele was withdrawn and showed little interest in her personal appearance.
The Shared Lives Officer gave Margaret guidelines on how to improve Adele's general health and wellbeing. Adele was referred to a dietician and Margaret and Adele joined a local gym (Margaret was able to attend for free as Adele's carer). Margaret encouraged Adele to enrol at college and get involved in local community groups.
She invited Adele's college friends over and contacted other Shared Lives Carers to organise evenings out; giving Adele the chance to meet up with other people who live with Shared Lives Carers. Margaret helped Adele to learn how to walk to college and local activities on her own, giving Adele both independence and regular exercise.
The difference Shared Lives made
Less than two years later, Adele's life has completely changed. She has lost five stone in weight, her medication for diabetes has been reduced and she no longer takes antidepressants. Adele has a lot of friends and a very busy social life. She attends college three days per week, is a member of a local drama group and recently played a part in a pantomime. Adele now takes pride in her appearance and has become outgoing and chatty.
Margaret has built a warm and trusting relationship with Adele. Margaret has worked hard to encourage Adele to rebuild her relationship with her family. Adele now sees her father and sister regularly and was a bridesmaid at her sister's wedding.
Life before Shared Lives
For 15 years, John dedicated his life to his children. His home became a time capsule based on them as children, not the adults they actually are! Even the bedrooms were decorated and furnished as if they were still there!
John had to retire early from his job as a Logistics Team Leader with British Aerospace due to health issues. He loved his job, his children were leaving home, and he found it painful to let things go.
Becoming a Shared Lives carer
While he was considering what to do with his life, John spent time with a friend, who is a Shared Lives carer in Preston. She had a young man with learning disabilities living with her at the time, so they spent some time together.
They got on really well, John took him speed boating and sailing and then thought: “Maybe I could do this Shared Lives thing, I have two spare rooms, and like supporting people to learn new things!” and that is how it came about, I contacted Alyson and Helen in the Shared Lives team.
They came round to see me in early 2017, and were friendly, but straight with me. They gave me four weeks to declutter my house and Helen even came round and helped me tidy up. The polite push from Alyson and Helen gave me both pride in my home and a regular income doing something I enjoy.
Shared Lives turned my life round for the better
John is now a Shared Lives carer and he offers respite care and some day support.
John said: "Now I share my life with the people I support. They know my friends, they come camping and speed boating, we go salsa dancing, play guitar, cycle, go swimming, play football, hill walking, cook roast dinners and go to church, if they want. Being a Shared Lives Carer really turned my life around for the better."