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The carers opening their homes to people in need

The fact Charlie can work is thanks to the support he gets from his former foster parents - now Shared Lives carers Credit: ITV News Anglia

One of the biggest challenges facing the NHS is the amount of social care needed by elderly or vulnerable adults - but one scheme has been quietly revolutionising the way social care is provided here in the Anglia region

It's called Shared Lives, and means people who need help to live independently, are matched with individuals, or families, who'll look after them in their own homes.

In Shared Lives, an adult or young person who needs long term support is matched with a carefully approved Shared Lives carer, by their local scheme. Together, they share family and community life. People typically supported by Shared Lives include those with learning difficulties, care leavers, people with mental health issues and those requiring short term support after, for example, a hospital stay.

Shared Lives has changed the lives of James and Andy from Ware in Hertfordshire. Credit: ITV News Anglia

James had been living in residential care for two decades but 8 years ago, Andy started giving him support to live life on his own terms.

We made it work. And James lives very very close to our house. He uses our house a lot. Is part of the family. He likes to be able to do things for himself. He had a lot of things done for him, his life had been spent people doing things for him and now he can do most of the things for himself.

– Andy, Shared Lives carer
Credit: ITV News Anglia

The majority of people who use our service at the moment have some form of learning difficulty. But social challenges as they are at the moment mean we have a lot of people with mental health conditions. with dementia and physical disabilities, all needing some care and support. So as those challenges are coming forward we're looking to diversify our services to meet that need.

– Alison Arnold, Shared Lives
  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Graham Stothard
  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Kate Prout.