Life in lockdown has been anything but dull for adults in Shared Lives placements here in Worcestershire.
Shared Lives is often described as ‘foster care for adults with support needs’ and the County Council has run its own scheme since 2004.
For Chloe Pearson and Elizabeth Batham, lockdown has given them an opportunity to spend even more quality time together as a family, cooking, playing games and having fun movie nights. Chloe and Lizzie live with Karen and BJ Havinga near Kidderminster.
Chloe, aged 24, has been with Shared Lives since 2017, having previously been brought up by her grandparents.
She said: “It’s absolutely brilliant in Shared Lives. We do lots of great things together. Lockdown has been different to usual times – but we’ve kept cheerful by going for long walks, we’ve played lots of card games. Sometimes at home we have games nights.
“I’ve really enjoyed cooking during lockdown and my favourite is a bacon pasta dish.”
Elizabeth, 25, has been involved with Shared Lives since 2015.
She said: “I love being in a caring family. I love living in Shared Lives with Karen and BJ and I want to stay here for ever.
“Sometimes I can get anxious especially at the moment and nervous and excited before I see my family. Because of lockdown I’m not seeing them as much as I used to, Karen and BJ are helping me not to get anxious. Chloe is like my sister.”
For Karen, deciding to become a Shared Lives provider was an easy choice. Shared Lives providers are professional carers who open their homes to support adults with learning difficulties, learning disabilities, mental health conditions, physical disabilities or dementia. They offer long term or replacement care, support and accommodation to individuals who choose to live with them.
Karen said: “I wanted to help individuals whatever their background, their circumstances and support needs to be the best they can be.
“I have enjoyed sharing their activities and their achievements as individuals. I have a great time with them. It’s about sharing the individual’s interests.
“It’s so rewarding to see the progress they have made and helping them become part of the Hagley community. It’s nice to give them a sense of belonging alongside including and welcoming their families to become part of our lives.”
BJ added: “Karen and I find Shared Lives very rewarding. Chloe and Lizzie have really progressed, they have become a lot more active, lost weight, they’ve gained so much confidence with others, it’s really good to see.”
In 2021, Worcestershire’s Shared Lives service is expanding, meaning more individuals will be able to consider a Shared Lives placement as an alternative to other forms of support. If you are interested in providing support from your own home, the scheme would love to hear from you. The aim is to increase the number of Shared Lives placements by 2022.
Councillor Adrian Hardman, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “The Council’s priority is to ensure people can live healthy and independent lives for as long as possible.
“Shared Lives is such a fantastic programme offering so many benefits and meaning individuals can live within a family setting in their home. As you can see from both Chloe and Lizzie, they love living with Karen and BJ.
“These placements have so many benefits and really do ensure an individual’s needs are met and they get the right support for them.”
If you are interested in Shared Lives go to the County Council’s new look Shared Lives website.