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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.

Sharing your home and life

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. 

We actively encourage carers to involve people who use the service in family activities. This includes daily tasks such as shopping, cooking and social activities such as going to the cinema or out for a meal. You can 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 your work hours and work from home. 

Different arrangements

The scheme offers different types of arrangements.

  • trial period - Before any arrangement is made, a trial period will vary according to individual circumstances.
  • daycare - Supporting a person for a few hours daily but not overnight
  • short breaks - Providing a short break for a person. This can be anything from one night to a few weeks at a time and maybe a one-off or regularly
  • emergency care - When support is needed urgently, for example, the same or the next day, without time for introductory visits
  • long-term care / permanent arrangement - When the plan is for a person to live long-term with a carer (anything over three months)

Contact us to learn more about the role of a Shared Lives carer and the type of arrangement that would work best for you. 

Who can apply to be a Shared Lives carer?

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 rents or owns their 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 is the primary carer. 

The scheme welcomes applications from people of all ethnicities, sexual orientations and abilities.

Foster carers

We have many Shared Live carers with 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.

How matching works

Matching is essential. Everyone is different, so we'll ask what is important to you before matching you to someone that would suit your household.

Before any placement, there will be opportunities for you and the person being offered a service to meet for trial visits.

What type of person might I support?

People who use the service have various backgrounds and support needs. They may:

  • have mental health needs
  • have a learning disability
  • have physical health needs
  • be an older person with additional needs
  • be a young person leaving care with different support needs, such as Autism

You can choose who you support

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 to ensure everyone is happy with the arrangement. It's your choice whether this person is a good match for you. Equally, the person may decide that they are more suited to a different household.

Supporting more than one person

The scheme allows carers to support up to three people at once, depending on your circumstances, such as the number of bedrooms and your time available.

What support will I need to provide?

This will depend upon the person you are supporting.

You will need to provide the following:

  • 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

Helping with personal care

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

Full or part-time carers

Carers can work part-time, offering short breaks (respite care) or work for us full-time and offer a long-term placement. 

Learn more about the types of arrangements.

Payment and benefits

You would be self-employed and can choose how much and when you work.

Payment varies depending on the number 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 the following:

  • six weeks of 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.

Having another job alongside working with Shared Lives

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. 

Having a break from caring

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

How we support you

You will be allocated a Shared Lives social worker to support you in your work. Your social worker will:

  • visit you regularly for supervision sessions
  • be on hand by telephone to help with any issues that may arise
  • guide you to advice related to taxable earnings

We also have 24/7 telephone support 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, you will attend six days of training on subjects including first aid and safeguarding. These skills need to be updated every three years. Ongoing training sessions and carer meetings are available to talk to other carers and listen to guest speakers.  

Relevant experience can include supporting a family member or raising a child. All that matters is that you have the right attitude and approach. 

Housing requirements

You need to own or rent your 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. 

Does where you live matter?

We have carers all over the county in towns, villages, on farms, etc. Your location will be considered when we match you with someone who uses the service.

The approval process

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

The approval process includes the following:

  • a full assessment of the applicant or applicants
  • personal and medical references
  • complete 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 three to six months, and you will be allocated a Shared Lives social worker who will work closely with you throughout this process.

Find out more or apply

Contact us to speak to a team member, ask questions or apply.

Regulating the scheme

The Shared Lives Scheme is registered and regularly inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). View our latest report and rating (2019).