Community-based care for vulnerable adults

Shared Lives is a form of personalised social care for adults with disabilities, mental health conditions, or other needs which prevent them from living on their own. 

Around 12,000 people across the UK use the service, with Shared Lives carers being vetted and supported by local Shared Lives schemes. Central to Shared Lives is the creation of a bond between the carer and the recipient of care, and often they will become a genuine part of the family.

Around two thirds of all Shared Lives users are people with learning disabilities; others have mental health needs or another disability. Without Shared Lives, many of these people end up in residential care, unable to live an independent, ordinary life.

Shared Lives and their system of pairing vulnerable adults with caring families allows individuals to take control of their own lives while having the support they need. Aside from living with a family, some individuals will come for short stays, providing much needed respite for their usual carers. 

people who currently use Shared Lives in the UK 
of Shared Lives schemes in England received a CQC rating of excellent or good – the highest of any form of social care 
of people in Shared Lives felt they were part of the family most or all the time. 

What we did

In 2015 we set up the Shared Lives Incubator, a social investment fund established to help incubate the growth of Shared Lives social care, delivering better outcomes for individuals and cost savings for local authorities. 

With funds from four social investors, the Shared Lives Incubator has worked closely with councils and providers in Manchester, Lambeth, Thurrock and Haringey. Of these schemes, the Incubator remains involved with Manchester.

In each area, the team has worked in partnership with the commissioners to scope the potential for growing Shared Lives, jointly procure the new service and provide start-up funding and operational support. It has also helped raise awareness of the benefits of Shared Lives as a model of care. 

Impacts and insights

We have produced two reports on the impact of the Shared Lives Incubator. The Insights series, published in 2019, focuses on the technical elements of scheme growth and investment. The Learnings Addendum, published in 2022, considers the extent to which barriers and growth factors have changed or remained the same, with particular focus on the impact of Covid-19.

Related work

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