Carers share stories, inspiring more to share their lives
Three families in Gloucestershire are opening up about something they all have in common and feel passionately about.
They are Shared Lives caring families, who provide a home and family to someone with care and support needs, helping them make the most of life. Now they’re telling their stories so more people can benefit from this rewarding opportunity.
Shared Lives carers are employed and trained by the county council. No previous experience is needed, but many come from caring backgrounds. They help transform people’s lives by opening up their home and sharing their family with an adult who has care and support needs. It’s a rewarding occupation; helping people enjoy their lives. The council’s expert team matches people according to their lifestyle and interests and supports carers with training.
Here, local families highlight the variety of Shared Lives. There are lots of different types of arrangement. It could be providing a long term home for someone, or short term stays or simply going to spend time with someone during the day.
Stella became a Shared Lives carer, supporting Jean’s husband Alan who had vascular dementia. Jean was Alan’s main carer and needed respite sometimes but didn’t want Alan to be looked after in a clinical or traditional care home setting. Visiting Stella and her family, Alan built new relationships and was able to help out a bit around the home, making him feel valued too. Since Alan’s death Jean and Stella have continued their friendship.
Shared Lives carers Sue and John have Trev and Shantelle to stay for short visits away from their parents. Shantelle and Trev both have learning disabilities. They come every Monday and Wednesday and stay for a weekend each month. They spend time on their farm and Trev and Shantelle enjoy being with the animals. They also go out shopping and for coffee and socialise with the extended family.
Alison became a Shared Lives carer for Bonnie, in a departure from her career as a farm manager. Bonnie lives with Alison but on weekdays she goes to day care, leaving Alison time to catch up with other commitments. The two of them get out and about all over the place, giving both of them experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have, enjoying mutual companionship.
Cllr Kathy Williams, cabinet member for adult social care delivery at Gloucestershire County Council said; “Shared Lives is a very special scheme. It’s flexible and individual, meaning our team takes a lot of care to make sure people are well matched with their carers, and it has a huge impact on people’s lives. It gives people wonderful opportunities to participate in family life and communities.
“Our carers tell us that the friendships they build enrich their lives more than they could have imagined. I’d like to say a huge thank you to them for the great work they do. If you are inspired to find out more, please get in touch with the team.”