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Events mark Shared Lives Week

Published on 16 October 2015

A COUPLE who have opened up their home to support a man with dementia will be talking about their experiences at a celebration event next week.

Bernie and Chris Cave, from Netherhall, are Shared Lives carers, which means they share their home, family and community life with an adult who needs care or support to help them live well.

They met 85-year-old Bill after Bill’s landlady was diagnosed with a terminal illness. It meant that Bill, who has dementia, needed a new place to live.

Next week is the fourth annual Shared Lives Week (17-23 October), a UK-wide event to celebrate and promote the innovative and growing ‘Shared Lives’ model of care.

It’s also the first anniversary of Bill coming to live with Bernie and Chris. To celebrate, they’re throwing him a party.

Bernie said: “Before we met Bill, we had cared for people with learning disabilities, but not with dementia, so we took it slowly at first. It was down to Bill to decide if he wanted to be placed with us.”

Bill said: “I’ve got used to being here. Bernie’s a good person and her husband is a good man. I always want to stay with this lady and her husband – I’d be lost without them.”

Shared Lives schemes individually match trained and approved Shared Lives carers with people who need their support. This approach is now one of the fastest-growing forms of social care, with an additional 1,300 people across the UK choosing Shared Lives arrangements last year.

In Leicester, 60 people are currently supported by 54 Shared Lives carers. The city council is looking to recruit more Shared Lives carers, and wants to recruit around 30 more carers in the next 12 months.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Rory Palmer, who leads on adult social care, said: “Shared Lives arrangements are an ideal way for people who need some support to remain independent without being isolated.

“It’s great to hear first-hand from the people who are benefitting from the care and support that the Shared Lives option can provide.

“It’s clearly a model that does work – not for everyone, but for a significant number of people – so I’m pleased to hear we’ll be extending this scheme and encouraging more carers to come forward.”

Alex Fox, chief executive of national organisation Shared Lives Plus, said: “It’s great to see Shared Lives in Leicester playing such an active role in supporting our national Shared Lives week, highlighting the benefits of this approach and encouraging more people to consider becoming Shared Lives carers.”

Shared Lives carers need to be over 18, have experience in care work and be willing to share their own home – for rented homes, the landlord’s permission is sought.

People who are interested are assessed by the Shared Lives team and, if successful, they are matched to a person needing support.

Shared Lives carers are self-employed, and receive a financial allowance, training and support from the Shared Lives team.

The team will be recruiting Shared Lives carers at the Jobs Show at King Power Stadium on Thursday 29 October. Recruitment information is available by searching Shared Lives on leicester.gov.uk or visiting www.thejobshow.com

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