Inspectors praise Oxfordshire’s “extraordinary” shared lives social care services

A much-valued scheme that places people in need of adult social care in to the family homes of local people has been described as an “extraordinary service” in a glowing report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The Shared Lives scheme offers long term accommodation and support, short breaks, respite care and day support and there are approximately 80 households of approved Shared Lives carers in the county.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission inspected the service in early February and concluded that the Oxfordshire Shared Lives Scheme is an “extraordinary service” which “supports people, regardless of their care needs to share both family and community life with shared lives carers.”

The report went on: “The service is designed to carefully match people to households which in turn contributes to creating a 'personal touch' and a strong, visible person-centred approach.

“The high emphasis to promote a strong family environment is at the very heart of what the service does to ensure people's rights are protected. One shared lives carer we spoke with said, "[Person] has been with us for years and is very much part of our family". We spoke with this person and they told us "They are my family. We do everything together".”

“The scheme exceeded in recognising what was fundamental to people's individual diverse needs and ensured placements were tailored to match people's spiritual needs, cultural wishes and choices. Where shared lives family members were of different heritage and backgrounds we saw evidence of how shared lives carers went to exceptional lengths to ensure other professionals and services acted in people's best interests.

“There was evidence the staff often went 'the extra mile' to meet people's needs.”

Reducing isolation

The report added: “The shared lives team recognised and worked with people to reduce social isolation, they were particularly sensitive to times when people needed caring and compassionate support” and added that “people were supported to have maximum choice and control of their lives and shared lives carers”

Inspectors concluded that the service should be rated “outstanding” in its approach to being caring and “good” across the board in all aspects of the service.

Wonderful outcome

Councillor Lawrie Stratford, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care said: “This is wonderful outcome for an aspect of the county council’s adult social care that all at the council and our service users value hugely.

“The families who take part in the scheme are incredibly caring. They take people in to their homes for varying lengths of time and care for them as part of their own family. Inspectors are quite right to describe the service as “extraordinary” and we are pleased to see they have also praised the quality of the staff who operate the scheme day in and day out. My congratulations go to everyone involved and long may Shared Lives flourish in to the future.”

Who can have support?

Shared Lives carers are approved by Oxfordshire County Council and have received training and been approved by an independent panel.

The service is open to anyone who has been assessed under the Care Act (2014) and referred by an Oxfordshire County Council social worker or care co-ordinator. This may because he or she has a disability or mental health need.

The service is open to some 16-17 year olds in certain circumstances.

The scheme will match users with a suitable Shared Lives carer. People who use the service stay in the Shared Lives carer’s home and are a part of the household - whether this is for a couple of nights or a long term arrangement.

How to find out more

This is a paid role. Anyone interested in becoming a Shared Lives Carer can find out more by contacting the Scheme on 01865 897971 or visiting our website www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/sharedlives