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Shared Lives scheme by PSS helps people with learning or physical disabilities




Staff of PSS, who match experienced carers with adults with learning disabilities. Pictures by Mark Bullimore.
Staff of PSS, who match experienced carers with adults with learning disabilities. Pictures by Mark Bullimore.

A Diss organisation is helping people with learning disabilities or mental health conditions learn independent living skills.

Formed by the company PSS, the person-centred model runs in a similar way to a foster placement, matching people with physical or learning disabilities as well as mental health conditions with specially recruited and trained carers.

Its support service, Shared Lives, caters for people aged 16 and over in Norfolk and Suffolk and is currently looking to expand its service.

Development worker Alison Arnold said: “We have recently been recruiting new carers but we are always looking for more to join.

“You don’t necessarily have to have a background in care. If you brought up your family and now have a spare room at home – and have got a lot of life experience – then we’d welcome you to join.”

To become a carer, applicants will have to undergo a three to six-month assessment process, which also involves training before they are matched.

Development worker Alison Arnold believes there is a growing need for support services.
Development worker Alison Arnold believes there is a growing need for support services.

Matches are based on skills, experience and locality and the scheme allows individuals who may not be fully able to live on their own a chance to experience independence while living with a carer.

“Shared Lives gives people a chance to get the support that they need in a home environment. They live in a safe environment at the home of a carer who can support them with their individual needs,” said Mrs Arnold, who has been working in the care and support sector for the past 10 years.

The service can be long-term or short-term and also offers respite for people who may need a break from being full-time carers.

“This model of care is about empowering individuals, promoting their independence, connecting them to their communities and helping people achieve their best potential,” said Mrs Arnold.

“It helps them to build relationships with friends and the community and it’s been proven that it improves physical and emotional wellbeing.”

A nationwide organisation, PSS has been around for 100 years and started the Shared Lives service 40 years ago in response to residential homes closing down.

The branch at Diss Business Centre opened in November 2017, and currently caters to 250 residents in Norfolk and Suffolk.



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