Shared Lives Carer Lyndsey Shaw joins call for others to apply for the 'rewarding' job

As council chiefs issue a plea for more people to open up their home to vulnerable adults - offer temporary respite to their carers - one Leeds mum tells the Yorkshire Evening Post why the job is so "rewarding".

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 11:45 am
Mum-of-two Lyndsey Shaw, has been a Shared Lives Carer since 2007. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Mum-of-two Lyndsey Shaw is continuing the family tradition as a Shared Lives Carer.

She decided to open up her home to the scheme in 2007 after watching her parents do it when she grew up - and she says she’s never looked back.

Lyndsey, 39, of Bramley, said: “When I was a teenager at school my mum and dad had people come for respite.

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Mum-of-two Lyndsey Shaw, (left) has been a Shared Lives Carer since 2007. This week she has service user Heather Wilkinson staying with her. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“I never really thought I would do that myself but then as I got older and had children of my own, my mum started doing it again.

“The service users would come to my home and we’d play or go shopping or bowling. I thought I could do that myself - with having young children it suited me having to go out. They would come along on the school run or we did things as a family.”

The numbers of people registered on the Shared Lives Carers scheme in Leeds has fallen to an all-time low of 45 - far below the highs of previous years where up to 110 people were registered.

The scheme offers invaluable respite from over night stays to up to six months - in times of crisis - and Shared Lives Carers need no experience, as full training is given, just be over 18, with a spare bedroom.

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She said: “It’s very rewarding because you get to know them - the service user is part of your family.

“You see them as family coming to stay with you, really. And you see that they get a lot out of that - they gain independence and social skills, meeting new people and going to new places.”

She said: “More than ever with Covid happening, I’ve realised how important this service is.

“Because people weren’t going to their day centres or doing their normal activities - and some of those activities still haven’t resumed - they really and truly do appreciate it.

“You can feel the relief on parents’ and carers’ faces because they can actually have a bit of time to themselves.

“And the service users appreciate it - it’s a break for them as well, from being in their homes all the time.”

She added: “It’s like a holiday on both sides.

“We have a laugh really. Anyone that stays for respite, we will have family things we need to do - we might be invited somewhere to a party and they will just come along with us. They’re part of the family.”

Heather Wilkinson, 31, who has learning difficulties and scoliosis, has been staying with Lyndsey for respite for the past six years.

Lyndsey said: “She can’t be left on her own. It’s a matter of supporting her really when out and about with money or making decisions, getting ready for the day, explaining what’s going to happen that day, being there to support her really.”

Heather gave the Yorkshire Evening Post a thumbs up when asked if she enjoyed staying at Lyndsey’s and said: “It’s good.”

She enjoys the family’s dogs as well as listening to music and watching DVDs, said Lyndsey.

Lyndsey added: “It’s a very rewarding job. If you have time to share your life with other people, for them to be involved in your family and your activities.

“I don’t see it as work because people are fitting into your family and it is enjoyable when someone is staying.”

For more information about becoming a Shared Lives carer visit www.leeds.gov.uk/joinsharedlives or email [email protected]

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