“It could be the best thing you’ve ever done!” – celebrating Oxfordshire carers who share their homes

Caring households in Oxfordshire that offer adults with additional needs a place to stay and grow their independence, have been celebrated during shared lives week.

More than fifty people from Oxfordshire’s shared lives programme came together for the event on Wednesday night in Islip, including carers, the people they support and members of Oxfordshire County Council’s adult social care team who run the service.

The Oxfordshire shared lives scheme is a service where carers who have the skills, commitment and training have chosen to share their homes and lives with people who need support.

Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “We often talk about the Oxfordshire Way – our vision for delivering adult social care, which supports people to live well and independently within their own communities. Our shared lives programme is a prime example of how this works, offering people with additional needs a safe and nurturing environment to grow their independence.

“This shared lives week was a great opportunity to say thank you to the remarkable caring people who are part of the scheme here in Oxfordshire and celebrate the very special relationships which have formed along the way.”

In Oxfordshire, there are around 100 shared lives households offering everything from short stays and support for a few hours a day to somewhere more long-term to live. Shared lives carers receive a fee based on the level of support they offer, rent and bills, in return for welcoming someone into their home and community life.

Wednesday’s event was a chance to thank everyone involved in the scheme, as well as giving shared lives carers the opportunity to meet each other, widening their support network and discussing their experiences.

Information was also presented about Oxfordshire’s new CareFriends app, giving carers the chance to earn up to £1,000 for referring a friend to the shared lives programme.

Sally Ellis, Oxfordshire County Council’s Shared Lives Manager, has been part of the programme for 21 years and said: “Shared lives carers consistently tell us how much they love the role. It’s really nice to see both carers and people who stay with them get such a lot out of the experience. It’s great to see people really flourish and grow. 

“It’s not always an easy role but it’s definitely full of rewards. You will be well supported, given training and there is always someone on the end of the phone to help.”

Shared lives carers come from all walks of life, from different backgrounds and live in all kinds of homes. You can earn up to £500 a week by supporting someone at home and fit it around your life and work commitments.

If you think you could support an adult with additional needs, you can find out more about the programme at oxfordshire.gov.uk/sharedlives or calling 01865 897971

Sally continued: “It’s worth picking up the phone to speak to someone in the team or to be put in touch with a shared lives carer who can tell you first-hand what it’s really like. This could be the best thing you’ve ever done!”

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