Cornerstone have established their Shared Lives service over recent years and are looking for more families, couples or individuals to join a growing Shared Lives network that is making a huge difference to the lives of adults with learning disabilities, mental health issues or other care needs.

The Shared Lives service is looking to provide more support by offering this unique model of care where individuals have the opportunity to become part of a family and integrate into normal community life with the help and support of trained carers and a wider family network. Compared to some traditional housing support or residential care models, the Shared Lives approach offers individuals more choice and control over their lives and living arrangements, with many positive outcomes already reported including; feeling like part of a family, improved social life, support to have more choice in their daily lives and improved physical and emotional wellbeing.  In addition, Shared Lives is recognised as providing alternative, positive and creative solutions that help to address some of the emerging social care challenges, such as a growing aging population, population migration, and persistent financial pressures on local health and social care services.

    Marissa Speed Family Placement Lead for Shared Lives explains: 

    “Shared Lives is making a huge difference to the lives of adults with disability and support needs.  We have now developed this support and established a Shared Lives network, with each Shared Lives carer a real asset to the service, so much so we are now looking to recruit more.  Becoming a Shared Lives carer can be such an enriching experience and we are actively looking for a range of people from diverse backgrounds and with a wide variety of life experiences.   I would encourage anyone looking for a truly rewarding caring role to seriously consider Shared Lives”.

    Shared Lives is similar to fostering, helping people aged 16 and over with a wide range of disabilities, conditions and other support needs to live in their local community, by matching them with an approved carer.  Carers share their home, family and community life with the person they are supporting, whilst providing them with the care they require in an inclusive and homely environment. Every placement is unique, with the support provided being tailored to meet the individual needs of each person. This includes people with learning disabilities or mental health issues, older adults and also young people being supported through transitional services. Placements can be offered on a full-time, short break or day support basis.

    By choosing to become a Shared Lives carer, Cornerstone offers people the following;

    ·      Full training to develop and build on existing life skills & knowledge and enhance professional development.

    ·      A generous allowance and additional help with household costs

    ·      Regular support from your assessor and 24 hour on call service provided 

    ·      Continuous information updates regarding laws and legislation policies & procedures changes

    ·      Opportunities to help evolve and shape Health & Social care provision for the future

    ·      Information and guidance to access membership with Shared Lives plus and support groups within the local and wider community

    ·      Ongoing support to ensure that you and the supported person have a successful transition to your home and family.

    ·      Links to many different professionals including social workers, therapists, health care professionals, and community groups to ensure that all aspects of the supported person’s life and needs are met, as well as those of the carers

    One of the first carers to join the Shared Lives service in the Borders was Betty Falconer, from Newtown St Boswells. Betty explains:

    “The whole experience of joining the Shared Lives service was very rewarding and I was delighted to be approved as a carer, providing a young man with a supportive and loving family home. The support and training offered by Cornerstone was great and gave me a good insight into the caring role. It covered lots of different aspects including the legal process, health and safety and adult support and protection, and also explored some of the challenges I may come across. There has always been someone there to help me.  I would encourage anyone who can consider offering a vulnerable adult the opportunity to become part of your extended family in a caring, supportive and stable home, to get in touch!”. 

    Donna and Dave Gentleman started their Shared Lives journey in 2021. They have been supporting Dylan since late 2023 and really enjoy providing him with support, helping him to develop his skills and interests in his new home and community.

    Donna says: 

    "Being a Shared Lives carer is what I believe I was born to do, I have cared for others my whole life. The young adult we support has very quickly become family. Dave and I could not imagine our world without him now.”

    Jackie, Dylan's mum expressed how appreciative she is of the support that Donna and Dave provide to Dylan, she stated: 

    “Our son moved in with Donna and Dave, and he loves his Shared Lives family. He is so happy, settled and is supported to access so many different opportunities that are enhancing his quality of life. We have built up a positive relationship with our son's carers and feel that it is just like having an extended family. Our son has also been able to continue having short breaks with the other carers he has went to for years and he loves to go there giving him variation and a change of scene.  Shared Lives made this happen, we felt involved, included, and respected. We can call on them at any time if we have any questions, we are so grateful and so happy."

    Becoming a Shared Lives carer is guided by an initial process where the emphasis is on exploring if Shared Lives caring is right for a particular family. The process takes into consideration life experiences, motivations and mandatory checks and will help prospective families understand the rewards and challenges that becoming a Shared Lives carer could offer.  The Shared Lives assessment and training process takes about four to six months and once complete is presented to an independent panel of professionals for approval.  Once approved, a matching process begins where people are carefully matched with carers who are best suited to meet their needs.  Planned visits take place supported by a nominated assessor and any areas where further support, training, or professional input may be required are identified. 

    Scottish Borders Council is just one local authority to have commissioned Shared Lives services. Simon Burt, General Manager has commented:

    “Shared Lives remains a key commissioned service for the Health and Social care Partnership.  The first three years of service delivery have certainly met our expectations providing excellent outcomes for the people with a learning disability that are supported by the Shared Lives carers and Cornerstone.  As such we have now extended the contract by a further two years during which we have expanded the scope to service users beyond those with a learning disability. We wish the service every success for the extended period and look forward to continued excellent partnership working.”

    Cornerstone’s Shared Lives service is registered with the Care Inspectorate as a Shared Lives Scheme and the service is an active member of Shared Lives Plus.  Shared Lives services have been offered by Cornerstone throughout central Scotland for the past twenty years and are now looking to expand further particularly in the Scottish Borders, Glasgow, North Lanarkshire and Ayrshire.

    If you think you have what it takes to become a Shared Lives carer or just want to find out more please contact the Team by emailing [email protected] or calling 0300 131 3333 or visit our Shared Lives page.