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What we are doing

Shared Lives is an innovative form of social care based around sharing home and family life. In Shared Lives, a Shared Lives carer shares their home and family life with an adult who needs care or support to help them live well. Local, regulated Shared Lives schemes individually match trained and approved Shared Lives carers with people who need their support. In Shared Lives, the goal is an ordinary family life, where everyone gets to contribute, have meaningful relationships and are able to be active, valued citizens.

Shared Lives Plus is the national membership body for Shared Lives carers and schemes offering support to members to ensure the quality of service, with everyday issues around guidance, good practice, and regulation and with tools, resources and hands on support to diversify the service they provide.

With the Accelerating Ideas Programme, Shared Lives Plus supports the Development of new Shared Lives schemes and the expansion of existing schemes to work with older people and those with dementia.

What we are learning

A compelling financial savings case was developed by Social Finance in 2013 through an independent and detailed comparison of the full care packages in three local authorities.  

  • This shows that substantial savings occur when Shared Lives is taken up by people with learning disabilities and mental ill health in place of other forms of regulated care.  
  • Average net savings from a long-term Shared Lives arrangement per person per year are £26,000 for people with learning disabilities and £8,000 for people with mental ill health.

The Accelerating Ideas programme will fund equivalent evidence for Shared Lives’ work with older people or people living with dementia. This will produce a direct comparison of outcomes, direct, and indirect costs of Shared Lives set against traditional forms of short breaks / respite care in each of the four nations of the UK.

In addition, evidence commissioned by Shared Lives Plus includes:

  • A 2015 survey, which asked about how the health of the people they supported had been improved by being part of a Shared Lives household. Seventy-three per cent said they had received positive feedback from an NHS colleague about the difference their support was making to an individual’s health.
  • An online outcome measuring tool for Shared Lives. The purpose is to be able to more easily demonstrate the benefits of Shared Lives locally, regionally and nationally. The tool needed was co-produced with the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the University of Kent, Shared Lives users, carers and schemes and is evidence-based.
  • Research conducted by the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) at the University of Kent, concluded that older people using Shared Lives enjoyed positive outcomes.  

Our ambitions to grow through Accelerating Ideas

Shared Lives Plus are currently working on an ambitious programme in England to double the Shared Lives sector. We also intend to double the numbers of people who use Shared Lives in the other nations by 2020. Shared Lives will achieve this with the help of Accelerating Ideas funding to add capacity to those nations alongside funding applications that have already been submitted to the Welsh and Scottish Governments.

Scaling the Shared Lives model for older people will involve building demand, by raising awareness of Shared Lives across the UK at all levels, from communities to government. It will also require building supply, and partnerships with local authorities, charities and social enterprises will continue to be key.

Local authorities currently provide around 70 per cent of schemes, with roughly 30 per cent being provided by external, independent organisations. It is anticipated that this ratio will shift, with a decreasing proportion of schemes being provided by local authorities as budgets diminish, even though local authorities will remain the main commissioners of the service, and schemes will continue to be funded predominantly from a social care budget.