Shared lives schemes support adults with learning disabilities, mental health problems or other needs that make it harder for them to live on their own.
The schemes match someone who needs care with an approved carer. The carer shares their family and community life, and gives care and support to the person with care needs.
Some people move in with their shared lives carer, while others are regular daytime visitors. Some combine daytime and overnight visits.
Shared lives schemes are available across the country and are an alternative to traditional kinds of care, such as care homes.
The schemes are also known as adult placements.
The benefits of shared lives schemes
Sharing a home, family and community life with a shared lives carer lets you get to know and bond with the carer.
Before starting the scheme, you have the chance to get to know the shared lives carer and decide whether you want to spend time together.
People sometimes use a shared lives scheme as a way of learning the skills they need to live independently and to help them put down roots in the area or community before moving into a place of their own.
How to become a shared lives carer
Shared lives schemes rely on carers, and the schemes have to be registered with the Care Quality Commission. Carers are trained and vetted by the scheme.
The schemes do pay the self-employed shared lives carers but not by the hour. Carers, as well as their families and friends, contribute a lot that is unpaid.
If you're interested in becoming a shared lives carer, contact Shared Lives Plus, the UK network of shared lives carers.
Video: Shared lives - providing a home for those who need care
Watch this video about a scheme where people share their homes with others in need of care.
Media review due: 30 September 2021