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Becoming a Shared Lives carer

Sharing your home and life can help to change the life of someone who needs additional support.


Welcoming someone into your home and helping them develop the skills to become more independent and have a better quality of life can be very rewarding. 

People sometimes use the scheme as a way of learning the skills they need to live independently and to help them put down roots in the area or community before moving into a place of their own.

You also get to be your own boss, choose the hours you work and work from your home. 

Who can apply

Shared Lives carers come from all walks of life, from different backgrounds and live in all kinds of homes. Carers can be anyone over 18 who rent or own their own home:

  • single people
  • single parents
  • couples who live together
  • married couples
  • couples with children
  • friends sharing accommodation.

Both partners in a couple need to apply and attend training even if one person will be the main carer. 

The scheme welcomes applications from people of all ethnicity, sexual orientation and abilities.

Recruiting during the pandemic

Assessments with potential carers are being completed through Microsoft Teams, and we will keep in touch with you through WhatsApp and on the phone. Currently, we are only carrying out essential visits.

If you are considering applying to become a carer please get in touch.

Who would I support

Matching is very important. Everyone is different, so we will find out the things that are important to you and try and find someone that would suit your household.

Prior to any placement, there will be opportunities for both the Shared Lives carer and the person being offered a service to meet each other and to have trial visits.

What support will they need?

This will depend upon the person you are supporting.

You will need to provide:

  • accommodation and meals
  • emotional support and companionship.

You may need to:

  • support with developing practical skills
  • provide cognitive stimulation (activities which stimulate memory, acquisition of knowledge etc)
  • encourage involvement in community activities and increase social contact
  • build people’s confidence
  • help with personal care.

There are different types of arrangements from long term accommodation to short breaks.

Getting paid

You would work on a self-employed basis, with flexibility to choose how much you work and when you work.

Payment varies depending on the amount of people you support and how much work you do for the service. Sometimes it is possible to continue with an existing job.

Other benefits

You will also benefit from:

  • six weeks paid respite for carers with long-term arrangements
  • automatically qualify for Oxfordshire Public Liability insurance
  • membership for Shared Lives Plus network, a UK charity which represents the interests of all those involved in Shared Lives
  • training opportunities.

The tax rules for Shared Lives carers are also very attractive as a considerable amount of what you earn is exempt from tax.


You will be allocated a Shared Lives social worker to support you in your work and to visit you regularly for supervision sessions but also to be on hand by telephone to help with any issues that may arise. Additionally, they also guide you to advice related to taxable earnings.

We also have 24/7 telephone support available via the scheme during office hours and the Emergency Duty Team outside office hours.

Qualities we look for

We are looking for people who can communicate effectively, build positive relationships with other people and enable people to make choices and decisions.

As part of the application process, prospective carers attend six days of training on subjects, including first aid and safeguarding which need updating every three years. Ongoing training sessions are available as well as carer meetings to talk to other carers and listen to guest speakers.  

Supporting a family member or bringing up a child can count as relevant experience. As long as you have the right attitude and approach, that is all that matters. 

Housing requirements

You need to either own or rent your own home, which has a spare bedroom and be willing to share your home with someone who needs additional support. As part of the application process we request a reference from your mortgage provider or landlord. 

The approval process

All Shared Lives carers go through a thorough assessment process which includes an enhanced DBS check and references. The assessment report is a detailed report about you, your family, support network and home. The report is submitted to an independent panel for approval.

The approval process includes:

  • a full assessment undertaken with the applicant or applicants
  • personal and medical references
  • full checks with the Disclosure and Barring Service
  • a pre-application home visit from a member of the Shared Lives team
  • a pre-approval training programme
  • consideration of the application by an independent panel for approval.

The application process takes between three and six months and you would be allocated a Shared Lives social worker who will work closely with you throughout this process.

Find out more or apply

Contact us if you would like to speak to a member of the team, ask questions or apply.

Frequently asked questions

Do I have to be a carer full time? 

No. Carers can work part time, offering short breaks (respite care) or work for us full time and offer a long-term placement. 

Can I be a carer and work? 

Yes, you can have another job alongside working with Shared Lives as long as you are available enough for the person / people you are supporting. They may go out to work, college, a day centre, etc. We would consider your availability when matching you with the people who use the service. 

What type of person would I be caring for? 

People who use the service have a wide variety of backgrounds and a variety of support needs. They may have mental health needs, a learning disability, physical health needs, be an older person with additional needs or be a young person leaving care and with additional support needs such as Autism.

Can I choose who I support? 

Yes. The social workers discuss with you who might be a suitable match for your home, family and lifestyle. We then do a series of introductions carried out over time to ensure everyone is happy with the arrangement. It is your choice whether this person is a good match for you and equally the person may decide that they are more suited to a different household.

How many people can I support at once?

The scheme allows carers to support up to three people at once, but this is dependent on what the scheme agrees for your specific circumstances such as number of bedrooms and your time available.

Am I allowed to have a break from caring? 

Yes. If you support someone in a long-term arrangement you are paid for 6 weeks break a year. If you provide respite breaks only, you simply tell us when you are available or not to work.

I often meet up with friends and family. Is it okay for the people I support to come too?

Yes. We actively encourage carers to involve people who use the service in their family life and activities. This includes day to day tasks such as shopping and cooking as well as social activities such as going to the cinema or out for a meal.

Will I need to help people with personal care? 

Some of the people who use the service need help with personal care, e.g. brushing their teeth, getting washed, using the toilet and some Shared Lives carers support them with this. However, it is not a requirement when becoming a carer and it will be discussed as part of the matching process.

I am currently a foster carer. Can I also be a Shared Lives carer? 

Yes. We have many Shared Live carers who have fostering experience and it is OK to do both although there may be restrictions Your fostering assessment and training may count towards your application to become a Shared Lives carer.

I live in a rural area. Do I need to be near a town? 

No. We have carers all over the county in towns, villages, on farms, etc. Your location will be taken into consideration when being matched with a person who uses the service.