‘I live with other people and not alone’: a survey of the views and experiences of older people using Shared Lives (adult placement)

Brooks N, Palmer S, Callaghan L

Working with Older People 2016, 20, 3: 179—186

Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to report on the views and experiences of older people using Shared Lives (adult placement) in 2012/2013.

Design/methodology/approach
As part of a survey collecting information about outcomes for older users of Shared Lives issues of whether it had made a difference to quality of life, and positive and negative experiences of support were explored.

Findings
Questionnaires were returned by 150 older people using Shared Lives services. Findings suggest that this model of community-based support has a number of advantages for some older people, such as reducing social isolation and loneliness, promoting independence, choice and control, providing emotional support and increased well-being.

Research limitations/implications
The questionnaire was self-completed and so responses were not followed up to provide deeper insights.

Practical implications
Shared Lives is not appropriate for everyone but it is suggested that this option should form part of local commissioning strategies, be part of a range of options for social care practitioners to consider in their work with older people and helps to meet various current policy imperatives.

Originality/value
The potential of Shared Lives for older people is under-researched and this paper contributes to the literature in exploring the views of older people about family-based support in the community.