Your guide to care and support

Shared lives schemes

Shared lives schemes are designed to 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 an adult who has care needs with an approved shared lives carer. These carers share their family and community life, and give care and support to the adult with care needs.

Shared lives schemes are available across the country and are an alternative to traditional kinds of care, such as care homes. The schemes are sometimes also known as adult placement schemes.

Why shared lives schemes can be a good option

Sharing a home, family and community life with a shared lives carer as part of a shared lives scheme will allow you to get to know and bond with the person who will consistently provide your support.

Some people will move in with their shared lives carer. Others, including people with dementia, for instance, will be regular daytime visitors, while some will combine daytime and overnight visits. Before support starts, you will get to know the shared lives carer and decide whether you want to spend time together.

Sometimes people 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 their area or community before moving into a place of their own.

You can find details of local shared lives services on NHS Choices – use your postcode to search for local shared lives services. Each service listing will tell you:

  • contact details
  • whether the service is accepting new clients
  • ratings from people who've used the service
  • whether the service meets the national standards set by the government regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The profiles describe the services on offer, details of staff, and reviews from people who use the services drawn from a range of online reviewing websites.

Interested in becoming a shared lives carer?

Shared lives schemes rely on approved shared lives carers. The schemes have to be registered with the CQC. Carers are trained and vetted by the scheme.

The schemes 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, you can find out next steps from the charity Shared Lives Plus, which represents shared lives schemes.

Media last reviewed: 30 Sep 2015

Media review due: 30 Sep 2018

Page last reviewed: 15/01/2015
Next review due: 30/11/2017