Over 52 people who pride themselves on being caring and compassionate have started the ultimate work from home opportunity across the Black Country and city of Birmingham - getting paid to look after someone from within their own home, thanks to the government’s Covid Emergency Fund.

The new roles have been created by three of the twelve Shared Lives schemes from across the West Midlands area; Camphill Village Trust based in Dudley, Walsall MBC and Birmingham City Council, along with UK umbrella organisation, Shared Lives Plus. These ‘ultimate post-pandemic job opportunities’ form part of the much-discussed topic regarding the future of social care, as the role see carers providing personalised support to adults with additional needs from within their own home - on either a long-term, over-night respite or day-session basis. 

During the recent Shared Lives awareness week, Helen Whately, Minister of Social Care, met newly recruited Shared Lives carers, as well as scheme staff who were part of the national recruitment project. 

Helen Whately, Minister of Care, said: “The pandemic has shown us the increased need for social care which offers greater independence through freedom of choice, enabling people to strengthen relationships, which are so vital to our mental and physical wellbeing.”  

“I’m delighted that Shared Lives with support from the Covid Emergency Fund has adapted online technology and transformed the way in which local authority and independent Shared Lives schemes recruit and assess new carers. The six schemes involved nationally, exceeded their ambitious recruitment targets and over the last six months, I’m delighted to welcome 200 new Shared Lives carers into the social care workforce, with over 100 adults with additional needs now benefitting from moving in with their Shared Lives carer. The challenge now is to scale up the sector, so that even more adults can be supported by Shared Lives, which is still the safest and best quality form of regulated social care available. The recruitment drive demonstrates that Shared Lives is a highly personalised service which connects people with their local community, and also saves on the public purse.”

The announcement comes as a recent survey by Survation, highlighted that one in three people who currently live alone would consider living with someone with similar interests, a key aspect of matching someone within Shared Lives. The independent study also revealed that 70% of people would prefer any future care needs to take place in the home environment rather than a residential setting.

Currently just providing one percent of all social care services in England, Shared Lives care has a strong track record of delivering good outcomes, with over 90% of adults who live with or visit a Shared Lives carer saying it improved their social life as well as meeting their support needs. Shared Lives’ dramatic growth across the six regional Shared Lives schemes involved in the project shows its potential for the future of social care services.  
Alex Fox, CEO Shared Lives Plus, said “The social care sector has faced extraordinary pressures during the COVID-19 pandemic; we now have opportunity to invest and re-create more personalised services which focus on individuals’ strengths and the power of local communities. 

“We believe the Shared Lives format of matching people into the homes of carers will ensure we continue to provide support for those who need it but in a gentler, family environment.”  

“Shared Lives already support 15,000 adults across the UK, so we are thrilled to bolster our numbers by 200 new carers. These new roles are the perfect opportunity for those who are looking to develop a career working from home and take on a rewarding new challenge.”

Becoming a Shared Lives carer comes with a good salary, up to £600 per week tax free pro-rata. Carers are self-employed, so there are no zero hours contracts, which enables them to do the role as part of their family and life commitments. 

Sam and Adam Barlow are Shared Lives carers based in Sedgley with Camphill Village Trust and have opened up their home to George.  Sam said: “Being a Shared Lives carer is a job that sounds too good to be true – but it really isn’t.”

‘It’s great being paid to support someone in our home and out in the community. Our lives fit together so well and it’s great to be able to enrich someone else’s life whilst also enriching our own. Most important of all, you are providing a loving and supportive home for someone who needs it. Before becoming Shared Lives carers, we both worked in catering and hospitality. We found that these skills and our life experiences, could all be used in a Shared Lives carer role. We wanted a career that would fit around our commitments and a way we could give back to others.”

The new jobs follow a £300,000 funding boost from the government and distributed by the National Lottery, aimed at the rapid recruitment of Shared Lives carers across the UK. Shared Lives Plus used the funding to develop an online recruitment and assessment website to fast-track applicants. This significantly reduced the need for many face-to-face meetings and paperwork, speeding up applications from six months to six weeks. 
Kate Morgan, Registered Manager for the Camphill Village Trust Shared Lives scheme based in Dudley Borough, said: “Covid-19 has had an unprecedented impact on all aspects of our lives since March last year, but the 900 plus Shared Lives Carers across the West Midlands region have been providing more support than ever. We have witnessed first-hand how resilient and creative carers have been during these uncertain times and continue to support people to live longer, healthier, happier lives.”

Shared Lives Carers, who come from a range of careers, are carefully matched with their guests and encouraged to help them develop practical skills, build self-esteem and establish new friendships and social networks in their own neighbourhood, which creates a sense of belonging and community. Training and a support network are provided to all Shared Lives carers.

To become a Shared Lives carer, you must be over 18 years of age and don’t need any qualifications or experience, just the right values, commitment and of course, a spare bedroom. 
To find out more about becoming a Shared Lives Carer, call 01384 441505 or go to Shared Lives West Midlands | Adult Support| Camphill Village Trust