Vivo Care Choices’ Shared Lives service provides Gill with the flexibility to fit her caring role around other commitments and form true companionships at the same time.  

Shared Lives offers an alternative to day services, respite care and residential care, matching carers with people they can share activities or their family life with. There are a range of opportunities in day, short-term and long-term care.

Gill has been a Shared Lives carer for nearly five years, supporting ladies of a similar age to her during the day. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, she would normally support up to five people on a regular basis.

She said: “I’ve been doing this for a while now and I don’t see myself as a carer. I’m a companion for the people I support and they’re a companion for me.

“Somebody I used to work with was a Shared Lives carer and supported people in her spare time so that’s how I found out about the service.

“It’s so flexible. I rarely have to leave the house before 10am and I’m usually back by 4pm so that fits in really well with my lifestyle and other commitments I have.

“Before COVID-19, I would take the ladies shopping, visit cafés with them and take them to see their family members. We have a good chat and enjoy each other’s company. We still get out for exercise and other essential things now, making sure we follow the latest guidelines.

“I really enjoy it and I’m always telling other people about Shared Lives. When people ask me why I do it, I just explain what I do day-to-day and how much I get out of it.”

Not only does Shared Lives allow carers to commit to responsibilities that suit them, but there are many other benefits with the role.

Gill added: “The rate of pay is increasing each year, the expenses are very supportive and you receive a lot of ongoing help from the Shared Lives team.

“I’ll be 61 soon and I wouldn’t class myself as retired yet. This is a great opportunity for me to work in a flexible, part-time role and make a difference to some else’s life at the same time.”

How to become a Shared Lives carer

A Shared Lives arrangement can only be successful if the carer is able to meet the needs of the individual and has similar interests to them. Vivo always carefully matches carers with individuals.

Meetings are arranged between the potential matches to make sure they are compatible and check everybody involved is happy to go ahead with the placement. All carers are subject to DBS checks and full training is provided before being approved, receiving support from Vivo throughout their time as a carer.