Shared Lives set to roll out in Somerset

A scheme that helps vulnerable people live more independent lives is being expanded following a Somerset County Council decision today.

The Council’s Cabinet has agreed to transfer its Shared Lives service to Shared Lives South West (SLSW), in a move that will see more people with different needs benefit from the life-changing support.

In Somerset, the Shared Lives scheme currently focuses on people with learning disabilities. The new arrangements will make this support available to younger people with physical disabilities, the elderly, those being discharged from hospital and people with mental health conditions.

Shared Lives support sees adults with additional needs matched with a trained and paid carer who opens their own family home to the person needing support. The aim is for the person being supported to live the fullest life they can, be part of the community and maintain and promote new skills.

SLSW already operates across the region and was recently rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to be ambitious for our most vulnerable residents,” said Councillor David Huxtable, Cabinet member for Adult Social Care.

“This offers us the chance to expand the existing scheme and widen the offer to people who need support.”

There are currently 150 customers supported by the Council’s Shared Lives Service. The move to SLSW will see that number increase by 10 per cent over the contract’s term. Importantly, the service will be able to recruit more carers and so support more people.

The first-year cost of Shared Lives is estimated at £1.5m, slightly more than the existing in-house scheme. The proposal sets out a two-year contract with Shared Lives South West, with a possible one-year extension.

Support can be provided at varying levels, depending on the person’s need, with a focus on promoting people’s independence. Where there is a different need, short-term respite care can also be provided if necessary.

“This is about ordinary people and families contributing to the care and support of local people, sometimes in extraordinary ways,” said Cllr Huxtable.

SLSW, which is an independent Shared Lives scheme now in its 15th year, already supports more than 400 adults with additional needs across Devon and Cornwall and has 250 approved trained carers who offer a variety of care services.

SLSW CEO Dominic Spayne said: “We were recently awarded Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission are always striving to provide the highest quality of care.

“We welcome working in partnership with SCC and developing Shared Lives services across the county.

“We already have some incredibly dedicated carers making a real difference to people’s lives, but know there are many more people in the county who would make great Shared Lives carers.

“We hope that in the future the services with grow further and in turn we could help the county’s most vulnerable people.”