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Housing scheme for adults with learning disabilities to be adapted for care leavers

Typically used to support adults with learning disabilities to live in ordinary family or house-share homes, the Shared Lives project is to be opened up to people with care experience.

14/06/24

Housing scheme for adults with learning disabilities to be adapted for care leavers

A new programme launches this week seeking to address challenges of mental health, health, education and employment that young people with experience of the care system face.

The programme will be an adaptation of the Shared Lives project, a housing scheme typically supporting adults with learning disabilities to live in ordinary family or house-share homes, supported by specially assessed Shared Lives carers.

Research has shown that young people who may have grown up in foster care or residential care often experience higher rates of mental ill-health (45%, compared to 10% for non-care experienced young people). Disabled children are also more likely to be looked-after than their non-disabled peers (5.7% compared to 0.6% of the general population) and remain in care for longer.

The programme will work through personalised matching between someone who needs emotional and practical support to live an ordinary life, and assessed and approved Shared Lives carers, who open their own homes to have someone come and visit, or live with them.

Around 10,000 people across the UK currently visit or live with a Shared Lives carer, matched through one of the UK’s 150 Shared Lives schemes, commissioned by local authorities over the past 40 years.

The project aims to improve outcomes for young people with mental ill-health, learning disabilities and autism. It also aims to reduce challenges young people face when leaving care, for example: poor mental health and wellbeing, educational outcomes and accommodation insecurity.

Ewan King, Shared Lives Plus CEO, said he was delighted to launch the programme for care experienced young people.

“Shared Lives can offer a stable, loving base for people at a time of transition, from which they can learn skills and independence which give them life-long opportunities. It’s brilliant that so many local authorities want to prioritise support for young people through Shared Lives, and we’re excited about what we can learn and achieve together.”

Katie Brown, Director of Adult Social Care Services at North East Lincolnshire Council, said the challenge will be for the programme and local authority partners to “develop services together, rather than just having a service-to-service arrangement.”

The programme, funded by The Rayne Foundation and Segalman Trust, will help local authorities adapt existing services, specifically for young people, through recruiting and training Shared Lives carers, co-producing the service design with young people, using a trauma informed approach and developing ways to provide wrap around support for young people and their Shared Lives carers, through local partnerships.

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