Posted In Extended Stay, Shared Lives / NAAPS
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.
Julian 56, and Sandra Clare 54, from Grantham, have been Shared Lives Providers since 1997 and have had a client living with them as part of their family for the last 16 years. “We came across Shared Lives by accident really as our neighbours had a gentlemen living with them and we were intrigued as to how this came to be. We thought the concept of supporting someone in your own home rather than that person going into residential care was marvellous, so we explored the process further and became providers ourselves. We had a young family at the time and did wonder if we could make such a commitment, but the training and the discussions we had during the assessment confirmed we were making the right decision. We know how privileged we are to have been given the opportunity to look after someone in our home; it really is fun and challenging at the same time. We and the children, who have now grown up and gone on to have their own families, have benefitted so much, as over the years we have all learned more about mental illness. It’s also helped breakdown the stereotypical views our friends, family and neighbours may have had in the past and they can now see the person for who they really are rather than focusing on a disability.
Those early years were difficult at times and we did question ourselves whether we had done the right thing, but we didn’t want to let our client down. We felt it was right to try and give something back to the community, a sort of social responsibility you might say. The support from the ASA staff team was exceptional and they re-assured us that we had the right match for our family environment and you have to say they were right, because here we still are after all this time. We’ve realised over the years that you can’t set your own agenda and expectations of the client but you have to support that person to make their own individual decisions and choices in life, however long that takes.”
Julian reflects in that “We sometime wonder what is it that we do to support our client, as he is so much part of the family. But then you realise, that without Shared Lives, he could have spent the last 16 years in hospital instead of at home with us, that’s when you stop for a minute and begin to recognise your achievements”. Sandra adds “It’s so rewarding to encourage someone to engage in everyday life and enjoy being part of the community; every town should have an organisation like ASA. Over the years we have even had letters from the client’s family to say thank you for the support we have provided as they know we have helped maintain those close relationships. I would urge anyone to pick up the phone and find out more about becoming a Shared Lives provider.”
Dean Barnshaw, the Operations Manager for ASA, said “we support over 70 people across the county through Shared Lives, and across the whole of England there are around 10,000 people supported in such arrangements. At present there is a national campaign to recruit new providers and it’s 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 (CQC) 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 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.”
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