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Meet some Shared Lives carers

These are the stories of some carers and the people they are sharing their life with.

These stories show the benefits to our Shared Lives carers and to the people they support.

Sue

Sue has supported adults with a wide range of adult social care needs during her 25 years as a Shared Lives carer.

"Shared Lives is such a fantastic scheme that enables people to live as much of a family life as they can. I started out as a short break Shared Lives carer and found this very rewarding. I now care for three people long-term and have supported over 40 adults during my career as a Shared Lives carer.

I’ve always felt that with Shared Lives, particularly when you’ve got young ones moving into the scheme, they can all benefit from being encouraged to be more independent. It’s so rewarding to see how people grow and blossom, becoming more confident in themselves and the world and being able to do things they never thought they’d be able to do."

Watch Sue talking about becoming a Shared Lives carer

Mary

Mary has been with the Shared Lives Scheme for over a year and provides short breaks for ten people with a variety of needs.

"It’s just better for everyone. Doing this in my home seemed an ideal opportunity to give something back in an environment where I am relaxed and at home and hopefully the people I look after can be too. I like to be useful and I enjoy meeting lots of different people, getting to know them, getting out and about, providing the care they need, and promote their independence. This has its challenges as well as its joys of course but the Shared Lives team is excellent.

It may seem daunting, but I would really recommend finding out how it can work for you whatever your lifestyle is. It’s rewarding, interesting, and can fit in with lifestyle and family commitments if the match is right. Also, the training and support you get is really good."

Sharon

Sharon provides long-term arrangements and short breaks for Shared Lives and has been a carer for over four years.

"I became a Shared Lives Carer four years ago because I wanted to be part of the big picture, of contributing to society in a positive way, to open my home to someone in the community who is in need and offer a safe and secure place to live. With the right match people using the scheme can grow and develop."

Pamela and John

Pamela and John have been Shared Lives carers for over 10 years and are currently offering long-term care for three people.

"We looked after my father in his own home for seven years and realised that we had a great home set up for looking after people.

During our time as Shared Lives carers we have had a few situations that have made us realise what a great organisation Shared Lives Oxfordshire is. It’s lovely when we get to see people move to the next stage of their life and to know we’ve helped them get there.

It’s wonderful to see a person grow in confidence and to be happy, it’s also good to be able to work from home and get paid too."

Abbie and Sam

Abbie and Sam are the 2nd generation to become Shared Lives carers in their family. They decided to become carers after seeing the difference Sam’s parents were making to people’s lives.

Abbie and Sam work full time, have two daughters, and provide short break care for the Shared Lives Scheme.

The most rewarding thing is seeing people grow and develop into the people they can be. It’s such a lovely rewarding thing to do. It brings something to our lives that we wouldn’t have without those people.

We have two girls and rather than detracting from them, it makes them appreciate diversity, the girls are really very caring and supportive of the people who live here.

The training is really good and having contact with other carers helped us decided that it was the right thing for us.

Watch Abbie talking about what Shared Lives means to her family

Sara and Harris

Sara and Harris very much enjoy being Shared Lives Carers and have been part of the scheme for over 10 years.

“We became a Shared Lives carer because we wanted to make a difference to someone's life as we had seen for many years how happy Harris’s mum's service users are and we knew we could provide a home and a stimulating environment for them too.

Shared Lives works for our family because the people we care for are part of our family and we all work and get on like clockwork. What’s rewarding being a shared lives carer is knowing you're giving someone love and a home and helping them make a difference in their life.

Being a Shared Lives Carer works both ways and it’s our ‘pride and joy’, treating people as individuals. Knowing that you can’t change who they are, but you are able to enrich their lives and opportunities they may have, by letting people who use Shared Lives share your home.

By giving people a voice and empowering them, listening to them no matter the topic, you can encourage them to be confident and believe in themselves, where they may not have had this opportunity before”.

John and Jane

John and Jane provide both long-term and respite care for the Shared Lives scheme.

“We see our job as Shared Lives carers as creating a structure and enabling people to gain the tools to deal with uncertainty.

During lockdown the world around us became unrecognisable and all the small and big things we took for granted all of a sudden disappeared. During this unusual time, we had a young person living with us preparing to take a big step in his life, getting ready to go to university. This big change on its own increased the young person’s anxiety added with lockdown restrictions and unprecedented changes it took away what control he had known.

As a family, we had constant conversations about the best way to keep safe in a logical manner and how to follow the hygiene guidelines etc. And supported the young person to focus on his objectives like working to earn money for university and this was very successful financially and also gave him a structure and a sense of normality.

As a household of a few young people we took the time to be together, have laughs and banter, and lots of philosophical conversations. We shared our experience of going to university preparing the young person for communal living that would bring up some challenges and be very different from what he was used to.

Taking our young person to university for us was a very special and emotional day, we felt so proud of his achievements”.

Watch John and Jane explaining what Shared Lives means to them:

Rahat and Jawaid

Rahat and Jawaid have been Shared Lives carers since December 2004. They currently support two women in long-term placements.

Both women would usually attend a support service on a daily basis. However, following the first lockdown, in March 2020, this resource was closed, which meant that the two women being supported had to stay at home. This, of course, was a significant change for the women.

Spending more time together during lockdown has brought us closer, it has given us a deeper understanding and has been beneficial to the women we care for.

All the support that we get from the Shared Lives people has been excellent, and you are given very good training and the training is continual”.

Watch Rahat and Jawaid talking about Shared Lives: