Do you have what it takes to become a Shared Lives Carer?

Camphill Village Trust (CVT), a national charity who have been based in Stourbridge since the 1970’s, have recently won the contract to deliver the Shared Lives service across the Borough of Dudley for the next 3 to 5 years.

What is shared lives?

As a starting point, Shared Lives is sometimes described as a bit like ‘foster care for adults’ – but it’s so much more than that.

We enable the person to make their own choices in life, take control and maximise their independence. The person is carefully matched to stay with specially trained Shared Lives Carers who provide individual support to develop practical skills, encourage new social networks, build self-esteem and lead the same ordinary life at the heart of the community just like you and I.

When someone comes to stay with the Shared Lives Carer(s) on either a Live-In, Short-Break or Day-Care basis, we call this an ‘Arrangement’. There is a maximum of up to three people living/staying within a household at any one time.

In Shared Lives, the goal is for everyone to feel a sense of belonging, have opportunity to be valued as part of family life and be actively involved with the local community.

We support anybody from the age of 18 years old, though we will start preparatory work with young adults who are making the transition to Adult Services. Whilst Shared Lives is traditionally a service for people with learning disabilities, the staff team have experience of setting up Arrangements for people with mental ill health, early-on-set dementia, hospital discharges, older people, physical disabilities, people on the Autistic Spectrum and those with other complex support needs.

Currently, there are approximately 12,000 adults being supported by around 9,000 Carers in Shared Lives Arrangements across England and the sector has grown by 30% over the last few years.

When living in a Shared Lives Arrangement, people are known to lead longer, healthier and happier lives, which provides a real alternative to more traditional settings such as hospital or residential care.

95% of all Shared Lives Schemes inspected by the Care Quality Commission are rated as Good or Outstanding and the model has the lowest amount of Safeguarding incidents in comparison to all other forms of Adult Social Care. On average, placing someone in a Shared Lives Arrangement can save Local Authorities/NHS up to £26K annually, in comparison to other forms of long-term care.

How do I become a Shared Lives Carer?

To become a Shared Lives Carer, you don’t need any qualifications or experience of working in the care industry (though it can help), you just need the right values, dedication…and of course a spare room!

You should be over 21 years of age, be able to read and write English and be committed to undertaking training and supervision for the continued development of your role.

Shared Lives Carers are not paid by the hour, there is no ‘clocking on and clocking off’ when you are supporting someone from within your own home, but it’s a hugely rewarding role!

Shared Lives Carers have self-employed status and qualify for tax relief from HMRC. They are paid according to the level of support they provide which can sometimes include personal care, often between £300-£600 per week. You can even continue with your current employment and be a Shared Lives Carer at the same time.

You will need to complete an Enhanced DBS Check, self-declaration of health, as well as provide employer/personal references and relevant insurance cover. The Scheme worker will then write an assessment report that will include your life history, employment career and identify your values and motivations for wanting to become a Carer. We will provide you with a comprehensive Induction programme, where groups discussions will focus on roles and responsibilities, ethical dilemmas, safeguarding and communication skills, and medication administration etc. An Independent Panel made up of local people with an interest in Shared Lives will interview you and then approve your status as a Carer. From start to finish, the whole process takes between 3-6 months.

How do I get matched with a person on the Shared Lives initiative?

When we match someone to stay with a Shared Lives Carer, we sometimes have to consider, but not always necessarily so, cultural/religious differences, age, gender, complexity of support needs, daily routines, skillset and experience of the Shared Lives Carer, home location, pets, interests and extended family/social networks.

You may have to wait a little while whilst we find the right match, as we are not in the business of putting square pegs in round holes. We are sure you appreciate that when we bring people together, we need to check everybody is happy first, as this underpins the longevity and success of each Arrangement.

Being part of a wider charity means there is also opportunity to access all the activities at our Stourbridge Community as well as connect to an already established network of support.

If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a Carer with CVT Shared Lives, then visit our website at: or call us on 01384 5697264 or follow us on twitter:  @CVTSharedLives

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