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FAQs for Shared Lives Carers

What sort of people are Shared Lives Carers?

Shared Lives Carers are ordinary people from many different backgrounds who live in Bath and North East Somerset. They are not employees of the local authority or HCRG Care Group , but they have been through an approval process and are paid an allowance to provide a family environment and support to individuals for short breaks or a full time placement or for a few hours a day.

This is an important service that can bridge the gap for individuals between supported living and residential care. Shared Lives Carers must have the right personal qualities – they need to be patient, positive, flexible and have a person-centred approach.

  • Offer time, encouragement and opportunity whilst being aware of the person they are caring for and their needs
  • Provide a safe, supported and welcoming home with at least one spare bedroom if it is a full time placement, short break or emergency care be able to offer a stable and supportive environment, and have the motivation and commitment to develop a long-term caring relationship

What do I need to provide if it is a full time placement, short break or emergency care?

  • Provision of a furnished bedroom
  • Use of furniture and fittings in your home
  • Laundry facilities
  • Three meals per day, including a varied and healthy diet
  • Snacks and beverages
  • Supporting people to learn new skills
  • Personal care e.g. help to wash or reminding people to have a shower or clean their teeth – if required
  • Provision of transport to and from leisure activities, work, college or other activities where required
  • Outings and some entertainments such as outdoor activities
  • Holidays
  • Help managing finances
  • Handling and safekeeping of medication
  • Accompanying people to appointments e.g. doctors, dentists
  • Help people to access other health services
  • Advocating on the persons behalf, that is speaking for them to represent their best interests if they struggle to do so themselves
  • Enabling the person to use community services like the library, going swimming or to the shops
  • To have Household and Public Liability Insurance in place
  • Attending reviews and meetings with/for the person

What experience and qualifications do I need to become a Shared Lives Carer?

Becoming a Shared Lives Carer requires a huge amount of commitment and enthusiasm. No formal qualifications are required, but Carers are expected to undertake the training that we provide.

Shared Lives Carers need to offer support and encouragement in order for people to live as actively and independently as possible.

What kind of house do I need?

We are particularly keen to hear from you if you have ground floor accommodation and also if you live in a property that has already been adapted.

  • You can have any style of home as long as it meets our fire, health and safety requirements
  • The home must be in good repair and decoration
  • You need to provide a safe and healthy place for someone to live or have a short break
  • You need to provide a well decorated and fully furnished room

Do I need to own my own home?

No you can also become a Shared Lives Carer if you are in a rented property.

  • You will have to provide your mortgage or landlord details as we do carry out checks relating to arrears or pending eviction
  • You will have to inform your landlord that you are becoming a Shared Lives Carer

Do I need any adaptations in my home?

If you are providing short breaks you do not need any adaptations, although we are looking to recruit new Carers with already adapted ground floor accommodation.

If a person was living with you long term your Shared Lives Worker would discuss and arrange any adaptations necessary.

What insurance do I need?

All Shared Lives Carers are required to provide public liability insurance to the value of £3 million. This insurance must be specifically for the Scheme – regular house insurance does not cover supporting individuals in your home. The Scheme will cover the cost of the Public Liability Insurance.

What about my family who live with me?

It is essential that all members of your family living in your house agree with and fully commit to the idea of being part of the Shared Lives Scheme. If you apply to be a Shared Lives Carer we will consult with your family members as part of the approval process.

I’m working full-time. Will I still be able to become a Shared Lives Carer?

Yes, there are many opportunities which do not require you to be available Monday to Friday during the day. However, this depends on specific area requirements and the needs of the individual. The Scheme will inform you of opportunities in your area.

Is there an approval process?

Following the initial contact, we will arrange to visit you and discuss what you are able to offer the Shared Lives Scheme. The application form will request information including: Why you want to become a Shared Lives Carer, Personal information about you and your household, Your current or previous work experience, Two personal as well as professional references, Reference from your GP, Consent to carry out Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

An assessment will be made which will involve home visits to you and your family/household. You will also be expected to compile a Carer Profile, which gives details of what you could offer someone who came to live with you. The Scheme will assist you with this. You will be expected to complete training including induction by the Shared Lives Scheme. You will be able to comment on the assessment when it is completed. The report is then submitted to the Shared Lives Service Panel who make a recommendation on whether a person becomes an approved Carer or not, the type of approval and how many people they are approved to support.

Applicants will be informed in writing as to whether they have been approved as a Shared Lives Carer and the terms of the approval. The whole process can vary in the length of time it takes but will be completed as quickly as possible. It can take time to match the right person to the type of placement you can offer. This is known as the ‘matching’ process.

What is a DBS check?

If you are supporting vulnerable people you will need to have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. As part of the registration process you will be asked to declare any criminal convictions or police cautions that you have. Having a criminal conviction will not necessarily bar you from becoming a Shared Lives Carer – each case will be assessed individually.

How do you match people to Shared Lives Carers?

To help you and the individual decide, there is an introductory period where the individual will visit you, initially with a short visit with a view to increasing to an overnight and/or weekend stays. This can help with the decision-making and also helps the person make the choice. There is no fixed pattern for the introductory period and is very much dependent on all parties being happy with the arrangement. Whilst we cannot guarantee how long it will take, we will aim to make use of your home and support as soon as we can.

Will I receive training?

Yes, there are mandatory training sessions that new Carers are required to take:

  • Disability Awareness
  • Record Keeping
  • First Aid
  • Information Governance
  • Administration of Medication
  • Safeguarding Adults Awareness
  • Child Protection
  • Mental Capacity Act
  • Infection Prevention
  • Equality and Diversity

As a Shared Lives Carer you will be required to complete any training that your Shared Lives team member thinks is relevant to the person you will be supporting, such as Positive Behavioural Management or Autism Awareness.

What support will I get?

The Shared Lives team will be responsible for supporting you and the people who are living with you long term or having a short break with you. They will provide:

  • Regular support through routine visits where they’ll have a chat about how it is going and check that everything is ok
  • Regular newsletters to let you know what’s going on like local events and new staff Carers Handbook Advice via telephone and/or email
  • Ongoing training
  • Opportunity to meet with other Shared Lives Carers for a friendly get together where you can share information and best practice
  • Optional membership of Shared Lives Plus, a national organisation that offers guidance and advice

Will I have to be part of any other organisation?

We encourage our Carers to join Shared Lives Plus, which is a national organisation that offers guidance, support and advice around areas like taxation and discounts on home and public liability insurance.

Do I get paid for being a Shared Lives Carer?

You will receive a generous allowance on a weekly basis for caring for the people you support and the amount is agreed beforehand. However, it is important to understand that this should not be seen as an income. The amount varies according to how much care is required and the individual’s level of need. The make-up of the allowance includes a contribution towards covering food and utility bills. There are special tax rules for some Shared Lives Carers and an amount of what they receive is exempt from tax.

Are Shared Lives Carers entitled to a break from caring?

Long-term Shared Lives carers are entitled to three weeks’ respite (break from supporting the person) per year. All respite is planned in agreement with their Shared Lives Worker and is paid by the scheme.

Will I be an employee of HCRG Care Group and Health or Bath and North East Somerset Council?

No. Shared Lives Carers are not employees of HCRG Care Group or the council and are therefore responsible for their own tax and national insurance liabilities. This includes registering with HMRC as a self-employed person.

How is the Shared Lives Scheme monitored?

The Shared Lives Scheme is registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) who carry out inspections of the scheme to ensure that all our Shared Lives arrangements placements are being carried out in accordance with: the person who is using the service’s wishes contract agreed with both the Shared Lives Scheme and the Carer The Shared Lives team will agree regular planned home visits with Carers. HCRG Care Group and Health Shared Lives Scheme is a member of Shared Lives Plus.