Toggle menu

Shared Lives Carers, Carmel and Dave retire

Two Shared Lives Carers who have provided a welcome home and support to 50 vulnerable adults over 14 years have shared their experiences to encourage more people to take up the role.

Published 31 January 2024
SL Carers Dave Gray and Carmel Brown

Two Shared Lives Carers who have provided a welcome home and support to 50 vulnerable adults over 14 years have shared their experiences to encourage more people to take up the role.

Carmel Brown and Dave Gray retired this month after caring for adults who needed support to enable them to live independently in the community.

They first became Shared Lives Carers in 2010, initially with West Berkshire County Council and then with Wiltshire Council since 2012. During that time they have provided respite care as well as short and long-term placements.

They provided short term and respite care for more than 30 people while working for West Berkshire County Council and have undertaken 15 placements for Wiltshire Council.

Shared Lives Carers care for people in their own home and can receive up to £635 per week. They provide the practical and emotional support needed to enable people with learning difficulties, mental or physical health needs or those who are elderly, to live their lives the way they want to.

Carmel said, I was working in care and looking after elderly people when we initially contacted West Berkshire Social Services about looking after elderly people in our own home. The Shared Lives Officer explained to us about Shared Lives and that is how we got into it.

From the moment we started we were full on and had 19 referrals from Berkshire in the first year. We were providing respite and short-term placements while carers went on holiday or into hospital, or generally just for a rest.

We moved to Wiltshire in 2012 and the longest placement we have had is a gentleman who came for respite and stayed four years. It often happens that someone comes for a month but seven months later they are still with us, because of the challenges faced in finding suitable placements.

It's nice to know that you are helping somebody, and it isn't just that one person you are helping, you are also helping their parents, family, or their carers. Sometimes people have lived with their parents until they are in their 50s and then their parents start to have issues of their own and find it difficult to continue to look after their son or daughter. Some of the people we have cared for were born with a disability, but others have had an accident and need more support to live independently.

I would recommend Shared Lives. You need to have patience and be able to listen to people, give them time, and accept their views. It's a very fulfilling role and you can learn from the people you care for, their different lifestyles and the struggles they've had.

We've been very fortunate to be part of the Shared Lives scheme and to be involved with all our Shared Lives clients. Sharing your home is a lot of fun but at times it can be challenging. Our clients are treated as an extension of our family.

Shared Lives is not known about enough. The Shared Lives Team are amazing and there is always someone at the end of the phone or they will get back to you quickly. They're there for you and you can talk to any of them.

Cllr Jane Davies, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: Carmel and Dave have made a huge difference to the lives of the vulnerable adults they have cared for over the last 14 years and I would like to thank them for everything they've done and wish them lots of happiness in their retirement.

Shared Lives is a bit like fostering, but for vulnerable adults who may have a learning difficulty, mental or physical health needs or who are elderly and need support and care to live as independently as possible in the community. We currently have 61 Shared Lives Carers, but we need more people to join the team and become carers. Our customers have a wide range of abilities and support needs. Some are fairly independent and only need guidance, reminders or explanation, while others need assistance with most day-to-day needs. 

You don't need qualifications to become a Shared Lives Carer, but you do need to have a wide range of skills and life experience. It's a really flexible role and carers can support up to three people. Shared Lives Carers are self-employed and can choose how much support they want to offer and who they support. They receive a fee of up to £635 per week, per person.

More information about Shared Lives carers Overview - Wiltshire Council

Explore the topic

Share this page

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share by email