3 June 2015

Sharing Lives case studies are available at www.sheffield.gov.uk/sharinglives

More older people are supported by a Shared Lives carer in Sheffield than anywhere else in the UK, according to a new report by Shared Lives Plus.

Shared Lives is an emerging type of care in the community, where ordinary people open up their homes and lives to support vulnerable adults. They are paid a carer’s fee for this. Schemes run across the country.

In Sheffield 233 people are supported by a Sharing Lives carer and 96 of them are over 65 years old. Most have a learning disability and others have mental health or physical needs.

Shared Lives Plus’ ‘State of Shared Lives in England, 2015’ report says that Sheffield is leading the way in terms of the number of older people supported through the scheme. It states that if all other areas caught up with this, an additional 24,620 older people could be supported by Shared Lives carers.

Sheffield’s version of the national Shared Lives scheme is called ‘Sharing Lives’.

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for Health, Care and Independent Living, said: “Our Sharing Lives scheme means people who need a bit of extra support are able to get this by becoming part of someone’s life and often family. It’s about supporting people who need a bit of extra help, so they’re able to do the things they want to do.”

Shared Lives Plus states that schemes provides a more cost-effective type of care which could save councils and the NHS more than £120m if schemes were expanded – and crucially more people will benefit. In Sheffield, residential care and day centre costs tend to be higher than the cost of Sharing Lives, as well as being less attractive to some people.

Councillor Lea added: “Some people don’t want to be supported with residential care or spend time in a day centre. Our Sharing Lives scheme is a good alternative and also cost-effective. But it’s not just about saving money – it’s about helping people live more independent and happy lives.”

The Council is expanding its Sharing Lives scheme and encouraging more people to apply to be a carer. This might involve befriending someone and spending a few hours with them each week, sitting with someone in their home, or having someone to stay at home as part of planned respite care.

A campaign to attract more carers started in March and has generated more than 180 expressions of interest, compared to a previous average of ten per month.

People cared for through Sharing Lives choose this type of care following a discussion with their social worker, and often family, about the different care options available to them.

Alex Fox, Chief Executive of Shared Lives Plus, said: “It’s great to see Sheffield leading the way in supporting older people through Sharing Lives. They are playing a crucial role in helping us meet our ambitious national target of doubling the number of people supported through Shared Lives over the next five years.

“Despite the challenges our social care system faces, affordable quality care in a smaller setting is an attractive and growing option for councils, health services, and most importantly adults who need support. We know Shared Lives works and offers people with learning disabilities, dementia and mental health problems a chance to stay in their local community, make friends and live well.”

For more information visit: www.sheffield.gov.uk/sharinglives