The outcomes for people using Shared Lives are often transformative; and indeed the Care Inspectorate found that the Shared Live Fife service generated “significant outcomes which were testament to the care and support delivered by carers and the staff team of Shared Lives Fife. Such outcomes included the securing of individual tenancies, employment and voluntary work opportunities and support to compile a life story for future publication”. For individuals, Shared Lives allows individuals to achieve goals that might otherwise not have been possible. As one service user in Fife put it: 'This is a fantastic service for me. It supports me to live independently socially, something I thought I would never do. It has built up my confidence and have supported me with new experiences”.
The Shared Lives model of care keeps people in their local communities, and the holistic approach provides what many people need to keep well, for longer. The daughter of a service user with dementia, who receives short breaks through the Shared Lives Fife service said that “Shared Lives allows us to continue to care for our mother at home despite her progressing dementia. She has really bonded with the Shared Lives Fife carers, where we know she is totally safe. This innovative care service is second to none and has our full admiration”.
At a time of reducing resources and increasing demand, the Shared Lives model offers choice, quality and personal support in a flexible, personalised and cost-effective way. Its strength in providing bespoke local arrangements also makes it suitable to support small numbers of clients with multiple and complex needs – clients that other care settings struggle to accommodate in a cost-effective manner.
The financial savings associated with Shared Lives are also significant. In 2013, Social Finance undertook research comparing care costs across four local authorities in the UK. They found that there were potential savings of £26,000 per person per year for someone with a learning disability in a long-term arrangement, and £8,000 per person per year for someone with mental ill health being supported in the community. These figures represent cashable savings, and do not include the additional efficiencies and benefits that accrue from the way in which Shared Lives improves outcomes for the people involved, and supports the prevention agenda.
Shared Lives services play a valuable preventative role in a range of ways, from preventing hospital admission, dependence, carer breakdown and dependence on high-cost services. It can also be critical in helping combat social isolation and loneliness, as illustrated by the case of Sandra, who was referred to Shared Lives Fife for day support in order to help her access her local community, reduce her social isolation, reduce her anxiety and benefit her mental health.
Sandra was matched with a carer, Carol, who began to provide support to Sandra for 2 x 4 hour sessions per week. Sandra and Carol have developed a very good relationship and Sandra has stated that the time she spends with Carol has made a huge difference to her life. Her anxiety and social isolation have been reduced, and she now has the confidence to go out locally on her own. As Sandra says: “The support from Shared Lives Fife means I can get out more and it makes me feel more independent. I feel I can talk to Carol about my worries and anything else”