With the cost-of-living crisis seeing demand for mental health services rise rapidly, Shared Lives schemes and Homeshare organisations can help to support people in need.

With soaring energy prices and other household bills reaching record levels, many across the UK are seeing the financial strain take a toll on their mental health.  A recent YouGov poll found that the current financial situation was negatively affecting the mental health of nearly half of adult respondents in England (47 per cent) and Scotland (48 per cent) and 61 per cent in Wales.

With overwhelming demand for NHS services, recent data reported that almost four times as many people are waiting more than 12 hours in A&E before they can access mental health care, often waiting for a bed, compared to two years ago. The National Audit Office recently estimated that there were 1.2m people on the waiting list for community-based NHS mental health services at the end of June 2022.

Homeshare UK

Homeshare UK is part of  Shared Lives Plus, a national charity that promotes supportive shared living through Shared Lives care and Homeshare.

We support older people in need of companionship and practical help around the home, whilst providing a younger person with affordable accommodation and a home in a desirable area. The Homeshare match benefits both people involved, reducing isolation and loneliness as well as financial concerns, due to being an affordable housing option.

Shared Lives

Around the UK, over 9,000 Shared Lives carers open their homes and hearts to someone who needs support. Shared Lives, which involves a Shared Lives carer sharing their home with someone who needs support, has historically been most known for the support it gives to those who draw on adult social care. But this isn’t always the case, and increasingly, Shared Lives, supports people with a broad range of backgrounds, including victims of domestic abuse, older people being discharged from hospital and people with mental health conditions.

Shared Lives care is consistently rated the best quality and safest form of care across the UK and is already seeing positive outcomes through a mental health service piloted in Wales. The Mental Health Crisis Service in South East Wales, which is delivered in partnership between the local Shared Lives scheme for Gwent and the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, has so far helped over 140 patients and provided over 1800 nights of tailored support in the local community for people who experienced a mental health crisis.

Seeing the benefits of the model for supporting those facing mental health challenges, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) have also approached Shared Lives Plus to support them in setting up a shared lives service to support people coming out of hospital with mental health conditions and those entering crisis.

Chief Executive of Shared Lives Plus, Ewan King, reports that there is growing interest in the sector saying:

“Speaking to colleagues in the health sector we can see that linking those with mental health conditions with a Shared Lives carer offers a quality solution to delivering the vital support people need.  Our approach to support is low cost and built on both companionship and quality care that can be hugely beneficial for those impacted by the additional pressures people are facing at the moment.  We are keen to continue to spread the word about our services and support NHS colleagues to put local Shared Lives programmes in place that will enhance their mental health provision.”

The NHS Confederation wants to see Shared Lives grow in the NHS, and Chief Executive Matthew Taylor recently said:

“I want to see Shared Lives become a well-recognised feature on the public services landscape – a mainstream option that many thousands more people can benefit from. At the NHS Confederation, we are very keen to see Shared Lives grow.”

On 7 February 2023, Ewan King, CEO and Jayne Wilson, Director of Development at Shared Lives Plus met with Helen Whately, Minister of State for Health and Social Care. Helen said,

Great to meet the team from Shared Lives yesterday. It’s a fabulous scheme for people with learning disabilities and others who need extra care and support in their daily lives.”

If you want to find out more about how Homeshare could benefit a friend or family member, please contact us contact@homeshareuk.org