H&F Council must do more to improve lives for the disabled

We often think of Council’s Adult Social Care as just being for the elderly – but a significant part of the service is also for adults with learning difficulties. Many councils have made substantial progress in improving the lives of disabled residents with taking part in the Shared Lives scheme. This offers an alternative for those currently in supported living or institutional care. It is of them being placed in a family environment in someone’s home. It can also provide respite for parents with grown up sons or daughter that they are caring for.

As well as providing better care and increased choice it also reduces the cost. I am pleased that Hammersmith and Fulham Council is now planning to make some placements. However it is very disappointing that we are so far behind. There have been 13,000 placements nationally. We are still on nil.

The Council’s Director of Strategic Commissioning and Enterprise Adult Social Care and Health has sent me the following briefing:

Shared Lives Scheme

Our local Shared Lives scheme was established in April 2016 and operates across the three boroughs. The scheme is funded as an 18 month pilot and is being delivered by Grace Eyre Foundation following a successful tender. The initial aim is to establish 5 Shared Lives arrangements in Hammersmith & Fulham.

The scheme, which is registered with CQC, recruits and trains local people to become Shared Lives carers. Carers go through rigorous vetting and training. Once approved by a multi-agency panel, they are matched with a person with care and support needs who requires accommodation. Carers must be able to offer a room for which they’ll receive rent. They also receive a weekly fee and the person lives with them as “part of the family”. Matching ensures a good fit of personality, lifestyle, skills and knowledge of the carer with the needs and preferences of the person. This offers a real community alternative to residential care or supported living as well as providing employment opportunities for local people.

Whilst the initial focus is on people with learning disabilities (age 16 upwards), there is scope to extend to other health and care needs. The scheme will also offer short breaks and could offer day provision. A steering group including the H&F Learning Disability Team and Children’s Services identifies referrals. Links with Adoption & Fostering enable arrangements to transfer to adulthood where appropriate.

Several local events and publicity campaigns have attracted potential carers: reaching community members remains a key priority to recruit more carers. Six carers are going through the assessment process.

The Grace Eyre charity is an experienced Shared Lives provider supporting people with learning disabilities and mental health needs across Sussex as well as a fairly new scheme in Lambeth. Please see links below to our local scheme:



There are over 150 Shared Lives Schemes across the UK supporting 13,000 people. National evidence shows positive outcomes and good value for money compared to other forms of care. This a growing sector: schemes elsewhere are supporting people with dementia, older people, people coming out of hospital, people with complex behavioural needs and young people in transition.

Shared Lives Plus is the UK network for shared lives schemes. They have set standards for schemes and provide evidence to support the effectiveness of Shared Lives. Grace Eyre is a member of Shared Lives Plus – enabling access to best practice networks, resources, guidance, learning and training materials.


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