First Shared Lives carers to get the Covid vaccine

Carers in Oxfordshire who open their own homes to adults who need support began receiving their COVID-19 vaccines last week as part of Oxfordshire County Council’s efforts to prioritise frontline workers.

Carers John and Barbara McGrath from Abingdon were among some of the first to receive it. They have been Shared Lives carers with the county council since November 2013. Before this, they had been foster carers, having moved into the Shared Lives scheme to allow them to continue caring for a young lady who they had been looking after since she was a young child.

Barbara said: “We have been following the guidelines carefully but our worry has always been that we will bring the virus back to the person we support and it was a worry. We are so grateful it’s been possible for us locally.”

The couple go back for their second jab in three weeks time. John added: “We were greeted by friendly, caring informative staff who explained everything and put everyone at ease. The vaccine felt no different than the flu, just a bit of a sore arm for two days. We feel fine now.”

Sally Ellis, Oxfordshire County Council’s Shared Lives Scheme Manager, said: “We have been supporting Shared Lives carers to get PPE, payments, and advice throughout the pandemic and so we knew it was important they were on any lists that were being put forward for frontline workers to get the vaccine. The turnaround has been fantastic and this will alleviate a lot of pressure on Shared Lives carers in the area.

"I’d also like to add my thanks to them and to all the Shared Lives scheme staff who have worked tirelessly to ensure that people who use Shared Lives could continue to be safe, enjoy life as much as possible in what has been a difficult year for everyone. We’re glad we can end the year with hope for 2021.”

Anna McEwen, Executive Director of Support and Development at Shared Lives Plus, said: “We are continuing to work closely with our partners in the care sector and the Department of Health and Social Care to determine the roll out of the vaccine for all Shared Lives carers. We’re delighted that Oxfordshire County Council has prioritised Shared Lives carers locally and look forward to the rest of the UK recognising the unique and excellent role that Shared Lives carers do in their homes day after day.”

Find out more about the Shared Lives Scheme and how to get involved on Oxfordshire County Council’s website.