Adults Supporting Adults (ASA) are a countywide organisation that supports some 300 people to live in the community through a variety of different resources. One such service is called Shared Lives, whereby a vulnerable adult is carefully matched to share your home with you either on a full-time or respite basis. You then support that person to become part of your family and develop the necessary skills to participate in the local community and build their own social networks.
Sue Renner, 65, from Toft, has been sharing her home life with others as a Respite Provider since 2011. “I first found out about ASA whilst working part-time as a Community Nurse at Bourne Health Clinic. All but one of my five children have grown up and left home, so I had the time, a spare room and I thought the concept of Shared Lives, for someone to come and actually stay with my family was truly amazing. I wanted to give something back to the community and to be honest I also thought it would provide new friendships for my daughter, Juliette, who has a learning disability. I applied, and after the DBS checks, very thorough training and an in-depth assessment over a number of months, I was approved as a Respite Provider by an Independent Panel.
If anyone was thinking of becoming a Shared Lives Provider, I would say it is a very rewarding role, obviously you are paid, but it is much more than that. To see someone enjoying themselves, trying out new things and creating new memories is what it’s all about. We have a lot of laughs when clients come to stay, we cook together, grow things in the garden and I have a whole host of loveable pets, including cats, a dog, whites doves and on the family farm we have miniature pet horses, so we are always very active. I even have an arts and crafts room where we make cards and paint. Quite often we will go to local social events, church, concerts, swimming, walks, shopping or even support the client to visit friends or go to hospital appointments. I must be doing something right as the same clients keep coming back and I have a good relationship with their families. It’s also re-assuring that ASA are there at the end of a phone if you need support and they visit once a month as well just to check everything is okay. The ASA workers I have met are very passionate about what they do and they are honest and transparent in their actions.”
Dean Barnshaw, the Operations Manager for ASA, said “there are around 10,000 people supported in Shared Lives arrangements throughout the whole of England and at present there is a national campaign to recruit new providers. It is estimated that if all the Shared Lives organisations were supported to expand, it could save local councils and the NHS an estimated £150 million a year. The Care Quality Commission recognises that Shared Lives delivers better outcomes for people in the community rather than traditional residential approaches, which is why the recruitment campaign has been endorsed by Norman Lamb, the Care and Support Minister, and Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of the NHS. ASA has been providing Shared Lives across Lincolnshire for nearly 25 years now and we still have providers that have been with us from the very beginning. The longevity of such relationships is testament to the rewards of supporting someone in your own home.”
Finally, Sue goes onto state that, “I have nearly 50 years’ experience of working in the health and social care sector, as a Midwife and Ward Sister, in Hospitals and Care Homes, and Shared Lives couldn’t be more different. The support is much more person-centred with focus on the individual person making their own choices and decisions. Basically, in a home environment we can be very spontaneous and do what we want whenever we want, which is the beauty of Shared Lives.”
If you are interested in becoming a Shared Lives Provider or would like to find out more about what Adults Supporting Adults have to offer, then please call: 01529 416270 or visit the website at: www.asaorg.co.uk