Michelle has loved her time as a Shared Lives carer so much that she’s encouraged her best friend to join the scheme.

The Shared Lives scheme is run by Vivo Care Choices and 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.

After joining Shared Lives as a carer in September 2019, Michelle has supported a number of different people across Cheshire West and Chester and, as she and her best friend have similar interests, she knew she’d make an ideal carer too.

Michelle said: “It’s really enjoyable and you become friends with each of the people you care for.

“You’re part of their family and they’re part of yours. It’s nice to have someone really pleased to see you and happy to have you there.

“My best friend’s joining Shared Lives and is going to be shadowing me with the people I support.

“She’s a recently retired part-time nurse and she’ll be great at it.

“One of the things she found frustrating about her previous job was that she didn’t have the time to chat to her patients and really get to know them.

“At Shared Lives, you get to know people’s stories and they’re often really interesting and funny.

“I’ve worked in offices for more than 20 years previously and I wouldn’t do anything other than Shared Lives now.

“You’re appreciated by the people you support and it’s good to know you’re making a difference to them.”

Like many other Shared Lives carers, one of the main bonuses of the scheme for Michelle is its flexibility.

She added: “It still gives you time to do what you want to do with your day.

“Even when I need to travel, I’ll still have the morning or afternoon left so the flexibility of Shared Lives just makes things so easy for me.

“I can still go out and do my shopping or walk the dogs before or after I’ve been to visit people.”

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.