Lincolnshire adult support service Shared Lives to help inform NHS plans

The Adults Supporting Adults team.

The Adults Supporting Adults team.

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Locally based organisation Adults Supporting Adults (ASA) has been awarded a yearlong grant by the government, to record the impact of their Shared Lives services on people with mental ill health who live in the community.

Shared Lives is a unique form of care, whereby a person who needs support is carefully matched to live within a safe and secure family setting either on an extended stay (long-term) or respite basis. Through the family environment, the person is then supported to develop the necessary skills to become more independent and build their own networks in the local neighbourhood and community. This enables the person accessing the service to live better, healthier and lead a less isolated life.

The findings will inform the NHS’s Five Year Forward View on Mental Health, which is part of a wider £1.75 million NHS England investment project to develop Shared Lives services.

The focus of this is the capability to discharge patients more quickly, but also treat and maintain people at home and in their own neighbourhoods rather than being admitted to hospital care in the first place.

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said: “Whether helping someone with a learning disability to build a full life with a network of friends and family, or enabling an older person to recover from an operation in the peace and quiet of a familiar environment – people naturally value care and support in a loving family home.

“That’s why Shared Lives is an example of the kind of community and people-centred approach which needs to play a much bigger part in the NHS of the future.”

Trixie Bennett, chief executive of ASA, added: “We have been providing Shared Lives across the county for over 25 years now, and through all of our services we support some 300-plus clients, a large number of which have been diagnosed with mental ill health.

“Working alongside the Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation Trust and service-user led organisations such as SHINE, we have known for a long time that the services ASA deliver provide better outcomes for people when living in the community.

“This is also consistently recognised by the regulatory body, the Care Quality Commission, who monitor the standards within all of social care. Whereas the service is growing significantly across the country, unfortunately, Shared Lives is much under-utilised within Lincolnshire. In this time of significant cuts to adult social care budgets and NHS funding, viable alternatives must be found to support the most vulnerable in our society, of which Shared Lives should be considered more frequently.

“As one of only seven pilot areas across England, I am sure that the recommendations of this year long study will endorse the benefits of Shared Lives provision for people with mental ill health.

“We have recently restructured the organisation but continue to recruit new Shared Lives providers. Due to recent referrals, we are particularly looking for providers in the Grantham area with ground floor accommodation to support someone with limited mobility.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about ASA can call 01529 416270 or visit the website www.asaorg.co.uk