Alternative to institutionalized living gains ground

In Great Britain, the concept of Shared Lives has become increasingly popular. Shared Lives is a form of support and accommodation for adults with special needs in which qualified individuals and families open their homes to assist people with disabilities.

Alternative to institutionalized living gains ground
etrIn Great Britain, there is a way of living for people with disabilities called ‘Shared Lives’.

It means that people with special needs move in with their caretakers and in that way, also become their family members.
It is something between living in a care institution and living independently.

It has now become more and more popular;
many British people with special needs make use of the service.
However, some people are not in favor of Shared Lives.

For example, they say that it could lead people to living together just to save money.
Others say that it could lead to people with special needs
being influenced too much by the carers they live with.

Others are very positive.
Some people who use the system said it is good against feeling lonely,
and some carers said they love the work they do.

 

In Great Britain, the concept of Shared Lives has become increasingly popular. Shared Lives is a form of support and accommodation for adults with special needs in which qualified individuals and families open their homes to assist people with disabilities. There are over 10 000 Shared Live carers active in the UK, assisting people with a wide range of disabilities, illnesses and support needs.

The concept seems to be the happy medium between residential care institutions and independent supported living. With Shared Lives, people with support needs can move in with certified carers and become a family member. To ensure that everyone feels good with the situation, the matching process is very meticulously done. Additionally, the ‘families’ are regularly visited by the authorities.

Shared Lives Plus, the British network of Shared Lives carers, mentioned in its annual report that the service’s use in the UK has grown with 14% compared to last year.
According to Alex Fox, chief executive of Shared Lives Plus, this is good news when it comes to finances. He estimates that if they could double the number of people using Shared Lives, as well as attracting more carers, this would make savings to local authorities of £120m per year compared to other services such as residential care homes and supported living in the community.

Many have positive experiences with the service. Shared Lives carer Lorna, for instance says to be involved with Shared lives because she loves the lifestyle: ‘We get a lot of reward from it. It makes me feel good about myself. I also think on the whole, the money is very good. We’re very well rewarded for what we do’.
However, Sue Bott, director of policy and development of Disability Rights UK, says to worry ‘that professionals will focus on the pound signs and degrade the model, or worse, make it the default model in adult social care. For Shared Lives to enable independent living, it is essential that disabled people and families supporting them genuinely choose each other rather than have a living arrangement forced on them just to save money’.
Fox agrees: ‘We’re very conscious of not wanting growth at any cost. To make sure that the quality, safety and value remain, we work very closely with the regulators. In England, the Care Quality Commission has consistently rated Shared Lives the most compliant form of regulated social care.’

However, there are more concerns as for example Kaliya Franklin, co-development lead of People First England, an advocacy organisation for people with learning disabilities, worries that learning disabled people’s needs will be subsumed by those of the rest of the family or that they could be inappropriately influenced by the people they live with. She also says that ‘it might be great for tackling isolation, for example, but would a family want to support a 20-year-old with a learning disability who wants to go out clubbing and have an active sex life?’

For Clare, Joanne and Ayisha who are all Shared Lives users, the system works perfectly: ‘I would be bored and lonely if I had a flat,’ says Clare. ‘I have a big focus on food so I would be overweight too. I wouldn’t have enough support or care. I would probably die if I was in a flat’.

 

Source: The Guardian

 

To read the entire article, click here.
To find out more about Shared Lives, click here.

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