That’s the view of carer Sue Cashmore, 59 years old from Shiregreen, who has been caring for adults in her own home for around 20 years. She’s part of the Shared Lives scheme, a community-based approach to supporting adults, where ordinary people open up their home and lives to support people through respite or live-in care.
Three adults with learning disabilities live with Sue, along with her husband and teenage daughter, and Sue says the experience has been good for all of them:
“You develop relationships with people. And if they are comfortable coming to you and you enjoy having someone in your home, you just feel good.
“The people who we support are all independent in their own way. They don’t all need 24/7 care and they’ve got their own thoughts and feelings. They do what they want to do, and you’ve got to encourage that.
“You’re not just helping them though – it brings out your own personality a bit more. They bring out the best in you and you bring out the best in them. And I think my daughters are better people for having people with learning disabilities live with us – they get a better understanding of things.”
Sue joins Sheffield City Council in calling for more people to become a Shared Lives carer. People are given training and ongoing support and paid a carer’s fee of £400-£450 per week, or £65 for a night’s respite care. She added:
“What you do with people is very different. One of the gentlemen living with us works, and the other two enjoy different things. We’ve been on family holidays and, when we’re all at home, we eat together – just the same as any busy family would.
“If you think you might enjoy it, give it a go. If you live on your own and feel a bit lonely, give it a go. You don’t need to have a mega show-home, you can have a little flat and a spare room.”
In Sheffield 48 adults are supported by a Shared Lives carer. Most of them have a learning disability and others have mental health or physical needs.
The council is promoting carer opportunities throughout national Shared Lives week with:
· Monday 19 June – information given in the Flavours café at the council’s Moorfoot office
· Wednesday 21 June – information given at Crystal Peaks shopping centre
· Thursday 22 June – Information and girl-band The Sparkle Sistaz on Fargate
· Friday 23 June – Information and get-together for anyone on the Shared Lives scheme at the Fire Station on Eyre Street.
· Saturday 24 June – Information given at Barkers Pool in the city centre.
Councillor Cate McDonald, cabinet member for health and social care at Sheffield City Council, said: “Shared Lives gives people the chance to live in a nurturing, family environment. We’re looking for more carers to offer respite and live-in care.
“We want people who are compassionate and want to help, and who have a spare room. So if that’s you, please get in touch.”
Visit www.sheffield.gov.uk/sharedlives or call 0114 273 5275 to find out more.