Annette and Terry used to run a nursery from their home and gave that up to be Shared Lives carers. They have been full time carers for 11 years and are one of three couples in their family to be Shared Lives carers.
“We heard about Shared Lives through a family member who had been a Shared Lives Carer for over 30 years and we got to know the people that she hosted in her home. When the opportunity to offer rooms within our own home came up, we decided to become Shared Lives Carers ourselves.
“For the first year we took people in for short periods of time on respite; with our first long term user staying with us for 8 years. One of our current users has been with us since 2007 and another came to us for a short break and ended up wanting to stay – he has lived with us ever since.
“A typical day for us starts with support for bathing – either physical support or prompting to have a bath. Then it’s on to breakfast together and talking about the day ahead. Two of our users volunteer and are very independent, so we prepare them a packed lunch and prompt them to get the correct bus. They can be out most of the day and join us in the evening for tea. One of our users has more complex needs and requires constant support, so he goes to a day centre or we may take him out to places like the seafront for coffee.
“The best thing about being a carer is that we can change people’s lives and make it rewarding by giving them the support that they need. We enjoy seeing the positive changes in the people who share our lives. We have had some amazing moments including watching our service user with complex needs help us with a wheelchair basketball team we run and watching him interact with the players and referee. We also had a real sense of achievement when one our service users who is over 70 was able to go abroad with us for the first time after we helped him to get a passport.
“We think that the attraction of Shared Lives is that we can use our spare rooms to give someone who needs support a family environment. The people that we host benefit from consistent person centred care and 24 hour support. Without Shared Lives, many of the people we support may not be in such a good place. Being part of a family really works for them.”