National Shared Lives is a programme where people open their lives and homes up to help those in need of support.
Kiki and Matthew Hern from Pontypool, have been Shared Lives carers for the past four years, caring for 20-year-old Joel and two other young men who are living with them long-term.
Kiki and Matthew support Joel to live a full life – developing independence, progressing in his education and interests, and building social networks and friendships.
Kiki, who has three children of her own, said, “Our youngest son inspired us to become Shared Lives carers, he’s significantly affected by autism and he has taught us so much. We really felt we had a lot to offer adults who had similar difficulties as him. We loved the whole premise of family’s welcoming a vulnerable adult into their lives to guide and help them.
“We’ve supported Joel to become more independent and he’s come a long way since being placed with us these past two years. He’s really grown as a person and become a really happy young man who’s becoming massively more independent than when he first moved in with us.
“We are really proud of how well he’s doing, we love being Shared Lives carers and we love the positive impact we can have on the people we care for.
“When we started we didn’t have a huge amount of experience but we have received all the training required and have been supported every step of the way, so the whole experience from the beginning has been really positive.”
They have both completed training through the scheme including safeguarding and first aid.
Kiki and Matthew are encouraging others to consider becoming Shared Lives carers and reap the rewards.
How you can become a Shared Lives carer
Shared Lives welcomes couples or single people, with or without children, homeowners or tenants. Some carers do it full-time, others on a short-breaks or sessional basis. It is similar to fostering. Full training, payment and support are provided.
There are currently 205 households providing Shared Lives for the South East Wales Scheme, with 14 in Torfaen.
Who qualifies for the Shared Lives Scheme?
The South East Wales Shared Lives Scheme provides a service for vulnerable adults in their local community, helping to match them with a Shared Lives carer.
Each placement is tailored to the needs and requirements of each individual, from hourly support in the daytime to long-term places to live.
The scheme is available for any person over the age of 18 who has been assessed as needing social care support, including those with learning disabilities, sensory loss, physical disabilities, mental health needs and older people.
Councillor David Daniels, Torfaen Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, and Housing said: “Those who put themselves forward to take part in this lifechanging scheme are truly inspirational. They selflessly take people into their homes and care for them as they would with any member of their own family. We are all very proud of our Shared Lives service across the South East Wales region”
Find out more about becoming a Shared Lives carer