Help people lead good lives by becoming a Shared Lives carer

The Oxfordshire Shared Lives programme, operated by the county council, places people in a home setting, where care is provided by a family who share their lives with that person.

It is holding two local public information events during and after the national Shared Lives Week (11-19 October). The theme this year for Shared Lives Week is 'Living Good Lives', as the programme is designed to empower those that it assists.

Enriched lives

Sue and David Smith have been Shared Lives respite carers from their north Oxford home for four years.

Sue Smith, 66, said: "Our lives are enriched by being Shared Lives carers and by seeing life through the eyes of somebody who is differently abled by sharing our lives with them.

"It is a way of sharing space in our home and at the same time offer an experience of family life to somebody needing a safe and caring home while their long-term carers have a well-deserved break."

Sue, who with her 70-year-old husband were for 37 years foster carers, a time during which they supported more than 100 children, added: "Often the adults we care for as Shared Lives carers require emotional support, others will benefit from support in becoming more independent, they may need help with something like using local transport, meeting friends and shopping.

"It is important for those thinking of becoming Shared Lives carers to consider the whole range of respite care that they could offer to people. We have people to stay for either a weekend or a few weeks and I’m often humbled when getting to know our ‘guests’ and hearing about some of their life experiences which have not always been easy."

Information sessions

  • On Monday October 13 Shared Lives social workers and carers will be on hand in Oxford's Westgate Shopping Centre all day to dispense information about the scheme
  • A 30-minute session from 3pm on Wednesday October 22 at the Common Hall Café, County Hall, Oxford, will be held where people can find out more about Shared Lives


Carers from all walks of life

Ali Gackowski, from Oxfordshire County Council's Shared Lives team, said: "Oxfordshire Shared Lives is an innovative way of providing care and has been putting people together with carers in this way for about 25 years.

"There are adults in Oxfordshire who need care and support but they either do not want or need high levels of residential care. In many cases, a member of their family or a close friend provides what is needed. But sometimes this is not possible.

"Shared Lives carers come from every walk of life. Some join with considerable experience of providing support, others have no experience at all, but all do have the right qualities and approach, which involves being enthusiastic, caring, committed and sensitive to others' needs.

"I look forward to meeting people at our information events and hope that people see the dual benefits of becoming a Shared Lives carer."

Range of support offered

Some of the people that Shared Lives carers support include disabled adults; older people with dementia; people with mental health problems; care leavers and disabled children in transition to adulthood.

Support provided is flexible and can range from going out for coffee or to the cinema, to offering overnight stays in their own home or even having someone to live with them as part of their family.

Typically carers are paid between £300 to £400 per week per person they support. The scheme offers training, payment and on-going professional support and is a good option for people looking to work from home.

Living independently

Councillor Judith Heathcoat, Oxfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: "One of the best ways of providing people with the kind of care they require is to offer them the chance to stay in a Shared Lives carer's home.

"The service gives vulnerable or disabled adults this opportunity, enabling them to live as independently as possible by sharing in the carer's family life."

People can find out more about becoming a Shared Lives carer by calling 01865 897971, by sending an email to SharedLives@oxfordshire.gov.uk or by visiting www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/sharedlives.