NHS to bankroll development of Shared Lives support for adults in England

NHS England to provide £1.75m to grow Shared Lives schemes, which allows adults needing support to live with or regularly visit carers

People with learning disabilities are biggest users of Shared Lives schemes. Posed by models. Photo: John Birdsall/REX/Shutterstock
People with learning disabilities are biggest users of Shared Lives schemes. Posed by models. Photo: John Birdsall/REX/Shutterstock

The NHS is to spend £1.75m developing Shared Lives schemes in England.

NHS England hopes that funding Shared Lives, a model that sees adults needing support moving in with or regularly visiting an approved carer, will enable more people to be cared for in the community rather than in hospitals.

“Shared Lives is a real-world example of the kind of highly cost-effective community and people-centred healthcare approaches which I believe will play a much bigger part in the NHS of the future, as more care moves out of hospitals,” said NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens.

“Whether it is helping someone with a learning disability to build a full life with a network of friends and family, or enabling an older person to recover from an operation in the peace and quiet of a familiar and welcoming environment, Shared Lives challenges assumptions about what kinds of healthcare can be delivered in an ordinary family home.”

Learning disabilities

NHS England will use the £1.75m to provide funding and support to 6 to 10 clinical commissioning groups on the development of Shared Lives schemes that:

  • Aid the movement of people with learning disabilities out of medical institutions
  • Offer live-in mental health support as an alternative to hospital treatment
  • Free up hospital beds by providing ‘step down’ services for people who have had strokes or other health crises
  • Provide dementia support including day support


  • The money will be provided to areas on a match-funded basis. NHS England has recruited the national network Shared Lives Plus to help the clinical commissioning groups who get funding develop health-focused Shared Lives schemes.

    Alex Fox, chief executive of Shared Lives Plus, said: “This partnership is a fantastic opportunity for the NHS to develop a world-leading approach to community based support, which will help people live good lives, but will also save millions from under-pressure NHS budgets.”

    Shared Lives growing

    The announcement coincided with the publication of Shared Lives Plus’s 2016 The State of Shared Lives in England report, an annual report based on a survey of Shared Lives schemes across the country.

    The report shows that the number of people using Shared Lives support is continuing to rise. In 2014/15 11,570 people were getting help from Shared Lives compared to 10,440 in 2013/14.

    However this does represent a slowdown in the growth of people being supported via the model. Between 2012/13 and 2013/14 the number of people supported by Shared Lives increased 14.47% but between 2013/14 and 2014/15 the number grew by 10.82%.

    A spokesman for Shared Lives Plus said that given the national contraction of social care funding it is not a surprise that there has been a slight slow down but it is positive that the use of Shared Lives schemes is still growing significantly.

    In 2014/15 there were 8,480 carers providing Shared Lives support compared to 7,830 the year before.

    People with learning disabilities remain the primary users of Shared Lives support, accounting for 76% of all users. The next largest group getting help via Shared Lives were people with mental health problems who made up 7% of users.

    The report also noted that of the 25 local Shared Lives schemes that have been inspected by the Care Quality Commission, 2 were outstanding and 22 were deemed good. The CQC judged that the remaining scheme required improved.

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