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  1. ITV Report

Shared Lives: The carers opening their own homes to people in need

Social care is often hitting the headlines but a scheme called 'Shared Lives' is revolutionising the way care is offered. The project, which sees families open up their home to support and care for vulnerable people, has already benefitted almost 1,000 people in Wales.

(From L-R: Phil, Josh, David and Wayne) Phil and Wayne welcomed Josh and David into their homes as part of the social care scheme. Credit: Phil and Wayne Gregory-May
  • What is Shared Lives?

Shared Lives is a social care scheme which matches vulnerable adults with approved carers.

People typically supported include those with learning difficulties, people with mental health issues and those requiring short term support. Together they share family and community life.

David Nichols, 22, has autism and came to live with carers Phil and Wayne four years ago. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Phil and Wayne Gregory-May from Llanelli welcomed two young men with learning disabilities into their home as part of Shared Lives.

David Nichols has autism and has seen his communication and confidence improve since coming to live with the couple four years ago.

Josh Dickens, who has special needs, came to Phil and Wayne’s home a year ago. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Joshua Dickens, who has special needs, came to Phil and Wayne’s home a year ago. The couple say it’s the most rewarding job anyone can do and are encouraging other families to sign up.

I've loved it here ever since, I think it's the best place on earth, if I wasn't here I just wouldn't be as happy. They truly are amazing, because we all do everything together. They take me away to places, they do things for me which are so nice...I also love them so much.

– Joshua Dickens

Watch Phil, Wayne, David and Josh’s story here:

Mo and Ethan, who live in Brecon, are also part of the scheme. Mo welcomed Ethan into her home 18 months ago giving him the support he needed.

Mo welcomed Ethan into her home 18 months years ago. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

20-year-old Ethan has learning difficulties and spent most of his childhood in foster care. He says without the scheme, he'd "be on the street right now" but thanks to Shared Lives he has a place he can call home.

It has helped me in a way. One I wouldn't be here without them, and the other thing is they're preparing me for the outside world because if it wasn't for them, I'd be on the street right now. I didn't have much to come with to be honest, but Mo was very helpful you know. She gave me the stuff I wanted, she's helped with savings as well, and saving up

– Ethan Morgan Griffith Long

With help from Mo, Ethan can make plans for the future. He is learning how to manage his own finances and, with his own living room and kitchen, he can live as independently as he wants.

Watch Mo and Ethan’s story here:

  • How does Shared Lives work?

Half of the people using the scheme move in with their chosen Shared Lives carer to live as part of their household while the other half visit for day support or overnight breaks.

Shared Lives carers do earn an income for the care and support offered. Carers typically earn £4-500 per week if someone lives with them, which covers rent, bills and food too.

The commitment you need to do it is 110%. There isn't an hour where you're not on duty but what it gives you is a sense of making a difference, enabling them to live a better, more independent, life to recover their strength and achieve their goals.

– BABS LEWIS, SHARED LIVES PLUS

You can get involved by visiting the Shared Lives website.