Newbie concerned about shared lives scheme

Hi everyone, I am new to the forum so thought I’d tell you a little about us without sending you all to sleep. My name is Terri and my husband Mick and myself care for Mick’s brother John in our home. John is 62 years old and he has lived his entire life with Mick who is 5 years younger. I have been on the scene since 1985 so Mick and I have have racked up 35 years of caring for John together. John has learning disabilities. We live in Somerset and manage to muddle along together. Now, I don’t want to whinge too much but after all these years we have decided to stop being silent for fear of “rocking the boat” and have asked for more help from the Social services regarding respite care for John. We have had a sympathetic Social worker who has managed after a long, long fight to get us 18 weeks respite a year… WOW. The only problem is, we are being almost forced to accept this respite through the shared lives south west scheme. Our experience of this thus far has not been great and did you know that now the applications to become a shared lives carer are fast tracked. From the first application to caring for an adult with learning disabilities in your home now takes just 3 WEEKS. Can you believe that? Our John loves his residential respite and thrives on the interaction he has with the staff and other guests. Just wondered if anybody else has had any experience with the shared lives scheme. It seems that Somerset Council are the only place in the country who have handed over their responsibilities of shared lives to a private concern. I hope you are all coping as best as possible in these times, we try to remember that good or bad, nothing lasts forever. Thanks all for reading. Take care.

Hi & welcome Terri

Historically, I have been a shared lives carer or adult placement carer. Same thing different names.
Although you say applicants are rush through. I find that difficult to believe. Unless some are ex foster carers wishing to do adults. All carers have to be checked - DBS. And receive appropriate training. So I would be asking more questions.

Even when a carer is identified it’s up to you as a family. If you feel the match is a good one for you brother in law. Ideally, an introduction will take place. Where everyone can see if all are comfortable. Additionally, keeping the respite to the same carer for continuity. Is your brother in law able to make is needs understood. Would he be able to say no to something he does like or understand etc. Obviously, there will be a care plan. And such things would be addressed.

Remember the carer also wants to get things right first time. And as much information on the persons functioning is helpful.

From the above web site.

We’ll spend time to get to know potential carers to assess suitability as part of an assessment process. It can take up to six months to be approved as a carer.

Good evening,
Thank you very much for your reply and your helpful comments. Yes, I agree. It used to be that to become a carer for shared lives would take at least 6 months with lots of checks and training etc. According to their website, due to Covid, Shared Lives South West will fast track an application in just 3 weeks. Please see link Carer jobs | Shared Lives South West | Carer Jobs in Devon & Carer Jobs in Cornwall
A couple of weeks ago our John was placed with a shared lives carer due to an emergency when Mick and I had to care for a relative who passed away. This carer was new to caring and had a job in computers before losing their job due to Covid. While we have nothing bad to say against them as a person, as a carer they have no experience and we found the care to be lacking. John was asked not to phone us in the evening because it was too expensive for them. He found this quite distressing as it was all new to him and he was frightened. Also, stated on the same website is the fact that the Shared Life carer has to have the relevant DBS checks, but any other family member living in the house does not have to go through any checks. The placement that cared for John had three sons who are living at the house. I am of course not suggesting any wrongdoings of any sort, but our loved one is placed in these homes and we would like to feel confident that all is as it should be. John has diabetes and has food obsessions etc, all of which is stated in his care plan. He was fed bread or chips for every meal and drunk very little water or anything while he was there.
We understand what a hard job being a shared lives carer can be, but are not comfortable with the level of care so far. We are also terrified to share our concerns with the shared lives co-ordinator for fear of being deemed unsuitable for the scheme. If this happens, our respite will be no more.
I hope I can ask a question if I may without causing any offence. If your co-ordinator came back to you with concerns from the family of the person you were caring for, would you take it as a personal affront or just as part of the process? We really do not want to upset anyone.
It would be good to hear your thoughts as a carer and thank you in advance for your precious time, it means a lot.
Best wishes.

Hi Terri

I’ve had a read of the web site. I think the 3 week comment is misleading. I also see the CQC as awarded outstanding. I the first instance I would be inclined to speak directly to …

And relay what you have stated on here. I certainly would not let go any issues. And stop worrying about upsetting anyone. The safety of your brother in law comes first. If families do not report issues. Then people go unchecked. I was also a foster carer for over twenty years. I always welcome input from families I worked with. And was always transparent. I also encourage children and young people to report anything. They felt made them feel uncomfortable. Use their gut instinct if something feels or sounds wrong tell someone. Who you feel safe to do so.

Safe guarding policies are in place for vulnerable children and adults. And is there for a purpose we must encourage people to always report issues that seem not the norm.

John was asked not to phone us in the evening because it was too expensive for them


If that was the case social service. Should have been made aware and made appropriate measures to accommodate John.

Family member living in the house does not have to go through any checks.

It’s common practice to check all (adults) living in a home.

share our concerns with the shared lives co-ordinator for fear of being deemed unsuitable for the scheme

It can take several attempts in matching people. As far as I am aware this was always highlighted to carers.