What are shared lives schemes?

‘Shared lives’ schemes are designed to support adults with learning disabilities, mental health problems, or other support needs. In shared lives, an adult with care needs is matched with an approved ‘shared lives carer’; the adult and the shared lives carer will share family and community life whilst getting care and support.

Shared lives schemes are an alternative scheme to traditional kinds of care and are available across the country. Shared lives schemes are sometimes known as ‘adult placement schemes’.

Why shared lives schemes can be a good option

Sharing a home, family and community life with a shared lives carer as part of a shared lives scheme will allow you to get to know and bond with the person who will consistently provide your support. Some people will move in with their shared lives carer, others (including people with dementia, for instance) will be regular daytime visitors, and some will combine daytime and overnight visits. Before support starts, you will get to know the shared lives carer and to decide whether you want to spend time together.

Sometimes people use a shared lives scheme as a way of learning skills needed to live independently, and to help them put down roots in their area or community, before moving on into a place of their own.

You can find details of local shared lives services on NHS Choices – use your postcode to search for local shared lives services. Each service listing will provide:

  • contact details
  • whether the service is accepting new clients
  • ratings from people who’ve used the service
  • whether the service meets the national standards set by the government regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

Or contact your local Shared Lives Scheme on 0118 937 3700.

The shared lives services’ profiles describe the services they offer, details of staff, as well as reviews from people using the services (drawn from a range of online reviewing websites).

‘Shared lives carers’

Shared lives schemes rely on approved Shared Lives carers. The schemes have to be registered with the CQC. Shared lives carers are trained and vetted by the scheme. The shared lives schemes pay the self-employed shared lives carers (but not by the hour).

Shared lives carers – as well as their families and friends – contribute a lot which is unpaid.

If you’re interested in becoming a shared lives carer, you can find out more from the charity Shared Lives Plus, which represents shared lives schemes or contact the Reading Borough Council Shared Lives Scheme on 0118 937 3700.

Page last reviewed: 12/01/2023

Contact the Team

Family Information Service

fis@reading.gov.uk 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2

SEND Local Offer

localoffer@reading.gov.uk 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2

Adult & Carers Support

CSAAdvice.Signposting@reading.gov.uk 0118 937 3747 0118 937 3747
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