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Sharon and Fiona, who are part of Ealing Shared Lives

How living shared lives could work for you

Sharon and Fiona have shared their lives for two years, through a council scheme that places adults with local families. Fiona comes to stay with Sharon regularly.

They came together through Ealing Shared Lives, which is an Ealing Council scheme which has run for 24 years. It is a flexible scheme that places adults who have extra needs with local families – either to live with them or to spend some regular time together.

It can be a full-time arrangement as an alternative to living in a care home. Or carers can help by providing respite care – giving other families a break, whether for a weekend, a day, or even a few hours.

Shared Lives is looking to recruit more carers. They are paid and receive training and support, as well as holidays. Could it be you?

Fiona and Sharon

Fiona, who has a learning disability diagnosis, and lives with her father most of the time, said: “Sharon is like a mother to me. I can go to her for advice. She has helped me a lot, and shown me a lot. I feel like part of her family.

“I’d be lost without Shared Lives. I love it. It’s made me happier and more confident.”

Sharon, who recently left a part-time job to concentrate solely on her caring, said: “Fiona is like an extra member of the family and keeps me very busy. It is a far more rewarding job than sitting in an office and that is what I wanted – to have a more fulfilling role and make a difference to someone.

“Fiona has changed a lot and all for the better. When she came to us she would just do what she was told but now she has found her voice and tells us what she wants to do.

“I knew what was involved in Shared Lives because my cousin had done it for a long time but I would tell anyone who is interested to go for it. It is very rewarding and I certainly get more thanks and appreciation than in any other job I have done.”

Sharon has now started doing some additional part-time respite care for Mary, who featured in a previous edition of Around Ealing and lives full-time with her Shared Lives carer Myrna. By a strange quirk of fate, Sharon knew Mary about 25 years ago. She said: “I have seen such a big change in her and it is lovely to see. Living with Myrna has clearly been a great thing for Mary.”

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