“Becoming a Shared Lives Carer felt like a natural progression for me, it was something I was always going to do, my Mum has been a Shared Lives Carer for almost 20 years, my two sisters and I have grown up with people sharing our family home supported by our Mum, one of my sisters and I are now approved Carers in our own right.
I was (and still am) the youngest Carer to be approved in Coventry, something I am very proud of. The approval process was explained to me and I found the experience to be a true reflection of the information I had been given, the process took around 6 months and a detailed assessment was completed. I was required to attend several training courses which are required of all Shared Lives Carers, I also completed bespoke training that related to the specific needs of the people I now support and have supported in the past.
I currently support two individuals on a long-term basis, both individuals have very different needs. I have an allocated Shared Lives Officer who supports and monitors my placements, we
all meet regularly, it works well for myself and the people I support to have a consistent allocated worker who is known to us all, although in their absence I know I can call anyone at the scheme if I need to. I attend Carers meetings where we can discuss relevant topics, be advised of any changes within the scheme, and we have guest speakers. This is our opportunity to share ‘good news stories’ or equally our worries & concerns - the meetings are a good way to get to know other Carers too.
I find my role as a Shared Lives Carer so rewarding, I have seen the people I support become happy confident individuals, making choices about their lives (sometimes with the support of others). It feels good to offer others the opportunity to live a family life. I have a great work and family balance, I have been able to have my children and be at home as they grow too, the interaction between my children and the people I support is great, it’s good for my children to grow and learn that sometimes people need support and that everyone is different but we are all entitled to family life.
One person I support comes from a very loving family, I don’t replace that family, I see myself as an addition to it and people’s families are always welcome to visit my home.
The challenges are similar in a way to the rewards, it can be difficult promoting independence, making choices or expressing yourself can be difficult for some people, especially if they haven’t
been encouraged to do this before, building confidence and self-esteem can take time and patience, but it is so worth it. It can be hard work, like every family home, there are always things to juggle, but I wouldn’t change my role, I feel I have the best of both worlds.”
Becoming a Shared Lives Carer is a big commitment but there aren't many roles in life where you can make such a big difference not only to the individual's life but also to your own and that of your family and friends.