In this evaluation we found examples of improved wellbeing, increased community participation and prevention of hospital stays for people with mental ill health using Shared Lives.
This evidence suggests that Shared Lives has the potential to play an important role as an option for people with mental ill health – as a form of accommodation, short breaks or day support. We hope that the lessons learned about ‘what works’ and the recommendations in the report will help Shared Lives schemes and Shared Lives Plus develop this further.
Shared Lives is a form of social care which has historically been used primarily for people with learning disabilities. In Shared Lives, an adult who needs support or accommodation is matched with an approved Shared Lives carer, who supports and includes the individual in their family and community life. The Cabinet Office has funded Shared Lives Plus to deliver a project to support the development of Shared Lives as an option for people with mental ill health. The project has supported seven local Shared Lives schemes1 to develop, demonstrate and market a financially viable and commission ready approach to Shared Lives mental health support, and to generate learning about what works.
We were commissioned to conduct an independent evaluation of the project. Drawing on data collected through a mixed methods evaluation approach, this report describes the impact and learning from the project. It is hoped that the findings reported will be of use to Shared Lives schemes looking to develop support for people with mental ill health, for Shared Lives Plus supporting schemes to develop in this area and for commissioners and mental health professionals who are interested in learning about how Shared Lives can support people with mental ill health.