Introduction

This study was funded to generate evidence about the potential of Shared Lives (SL) for older people.

Key findings were:

  • SL is clearly valued, with overwhelmingly positive responses when participants were asked about the difference the support had made to their lives. There is some evidence that SL can deliver good outcomes for older people, particularly for overall quality of life. More information is needed about those using SL to identify the most appropriate comparison group;
  • payments to SL carers ranged from £150 to £1,000 per week, with little consistency across schemes. Between £310 and £460,000 was spent on scheme staff annually and around £15,000 for related expenses such as advertising, recruitment and carer training. Most staff hours per week were spent supporting placements;
  • barriers to expanding SL services for older people included: contextual issues (restructuring, budgets, eligibility);
  • lack of awareness about SL; and
  • a lack of carers with appropriate accommodation and skills.

Potential solutions were: active promotion of SL; a dedicated scheme worker; and taking advantage of policy changes; barriers to introducing a new SL service for people living with dementia included: lack of awareness about SL; questions of safety and acceptability; and contextual factors (restructuring, management structures, knowledge transfer). After six months SL carers and referrals started to come through. Key was a specific individual to drive the project forward and management support.