Shared Lives – improving understanding of the costs of family-‐based support

Brookes N, Callaghan L

Ratio 2014, 2, 13: 5


For Shared Lives (previously known as Adult Placement) the goal is an ordinary family life where everyone gets to contribute to real relationships and is able to be an active, valued citizen. Older and disabled adults are matched with compatible Shared Lives carers who are able to support and to include an adult in their family and community life. Shared Lives can provide long-­‐term arrangements where the individual moves in to live with the Shared Lives carer and their family, or short breaks and day support for people who may live with family carers. Shared Lives carers provide personal care, and local Shared Lives schemes are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (Shared Lives Plus, 2014). At present, around 80 per cent of Shared Lives schemes are managed by local authorities who recruit, assess and approve carers, match service users with carers and support placements. Shared Lives carers are self-­‐employed and use their family home as a resource. There has been a limited amount of research in connection with Shared Lives, and it is only more recently that this type of model has begun to attract attention in the literature. There is some evidence of high levels of satisfaction among service users (Fiedler, 2005; NAAPS & IESE, 2009) alongside cost savings when compared to traditional services, particularly for people with learning disabilities (NAAPS & IESE, 2009; Social Finance, 2013). The National Institute for Health Research School for Social Care Research commissioned the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the University of Kent to examine the potential of Shared Lives to support certain groups of older people. The Outcomes, Processes and Costs of Shared Lives evaluation was conducted between 2012 and 2014. This short article presents some of the cost information obtained for the project, and aims to contribute to the understanding of the costs of Shared Lives more generally, as well as highlight where some of the gaps still lie.