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"It's not for everyone...but it's very rewarding."

4 minute read
"It's not for everyone...but it's very rewarding."

Published at 6:02am 15th February 2017. (Updated at 7:35am 15th February 2017)

Can you help look after a vulnerable adult in your own home?

Hampshire County Council is looking for people to take provide a stable home environment for  people with with physical or learning disabilities - or are elderly and too frail to take care of themselves.

Karen and John Coward of Yateley have been taking part in the Shared Lives scheme which matches people who need support with approved carers.

The couple, who are in their sixties, have been looking after  59 year old Christopher for more than five years.

Christopher is profoundly disabled, and also has epilepsy and mild autism.  

He came to them after trying residential care and other accommodation - and Karen says he has become part of the family: "I think I'm a surrogate mum to him - that's how he looks on us - as looking after him as parents would."

"We've seen him grown in confidence and ability to do things that he perhaps never had the chance to do before.

"He loves to be part of the family, with children, grandchildren and friends - he just loves being part of a busy household."


She said it is not all plain sailing though and it helps to be organised: "It can be challenging - he can decide when we want to have an evening out that he doesn't want to go - so that can be an issue.

"We always have to think ahead. If people invite us out, is he invited or do we have to have respite for him?

"You have to think ahead all the time."

Karen said however they are not alone - with the Council providing ongoing support.

She said it has been a worthwhile experience: "We've grown very fond of him - he is like another son really.

"It's been rewarding for us." 

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care, said: “Many thousands of people look to the County Council for support each year, to help them to live independent lives, and we want to support them to do so in the most appropriate way.

"This means understanding that different approaches work for different people.

"Shared Lives caring is a very different way of supporting people who want to live independently in the community, but who need help to do so.”

 “Shared Lives carers are very special people who open their homes to others who are not able to live on their own. 

"Every Shared Lives carer brings their own unique skills and experience, but what all carers have in common, is a desire to help people – and room at home to do so.”

Hampshire County Council says Shared Lives carers  will help those they care for to develop or maintain independent living skills, friendships and inclusion in their community.

They are able to work flexibly around their own commitments and provide: 

  • Short breaks - such as a weekend or when a family carer needs a break, or
  • Long term care - having a person living with them on a long term basis 

Anyone interested in becoming a carer will be assessed to ensure the scheme is right for them, and will receive full training, regular support and a weekly allowance. 


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