Executive Leader Cllr Kieran Quinn

Leader's Blog  

Councillor Kieran Quinn, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Making A Difference with Shared Lives

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Why do people choose to live together? Emotional attachment, finances and a desire for stability can all play their part when it comes to making that big decision. But what about those for whom the domestic life that we sometimes take for granted seems like a distant dream? That’s where Tameside’s “Shared Lives” scheme comes in.

Officially, the Shared Lives scheme in Tameside encompasses a variety of different services, but they all have the same basic goal. Instead of the traditional model of care, vulnerable people in Shared Lives, particularly those with learning disabilities or mental health needs, are given the opportunity to live with and share in the daily lives of their carer.

How exactly this happens depends on what works best for the carers and for those signed up to the scheme. We have placements ranging from long-term support lasting years to respite periods lasting anything from an afternoon to a few weeks. All have the same basic aim, to give vulnerable people the experience of domestic living, promoting integration into the community and helping them gain the skills and confidence to become more independent in the future.

It’s a truly inspirational thing to see in practice, turning service users from passive recipients of care into members of a family unit who give as much as they receive in love and support. To give you just one example, look at the story of Lesley and Ros.  

Lesley, a 53 year old from Denton, became a carer on the scheme four years ago after taking early retirement. What started off as a role providing day support and respite care to Ros, a 36 year old with Down’s Syndrome, turned into a long term placement that has now gone on for two years and counting. As well as getting involved in family and home life, Ros has also carved out her own hobbies and interests. She volunteers at a local nursery two days a week, visit MENCAP’s day centre and is involved in a variety of activities like drama, horse riding and drumming.

We want Shared Lives to create as many enduring friendships like the one between Lesley and Ros as possible, but that will only happen as long as we have a large and flexible pool of carers and caring environments. That’s why we’re encouraging anybody who might be interested to come forward and apply to become a Shared Lives carer. No formal qualifications are expected or necessary, and we actively encourage people of all backgrounds, skills and life experiences to take a look. All we ask of potential carers is for them to have a genuine awareness, understanding and empathy for supporting vulnerable adults, and a spare bedroom if they want to undertake anything longer than a short term placement. You can take up a caring role in additional to your normal job or it can be a full time commitment. Full training and support as well as an excellent allowance is provided to all successful applicants.

For more information on how to apply to be a Shared Lives carer, visit the council’s website at http://www.tameside.gov.uk/sharedlives/applytobeacarer. Make no mistake, you could help make an extraordinary difference to people’s lives. If you don’t want to take my word for it, then I’ll leave you with the words of Lesley, “Anyone thinking about it should just try it – shadow somebody who already does it and experience what we do. It can really enjoyable with the right support, it’s more than a job - it’s life-enhancing for all involved”.   

Posted by: Executive Leader

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