Community Services – Shared Lives

Last Updated: 29 June 2023

Where are we now

The Sutton Shared Lives Service, which is managed by the Encompass (Local Authority Trading Company) recruits and supports paid carers to work with adults with learning disabilities, mental health needs, and older people. Shared Lives carers offer their homes and family life to provide a safe place for people to live, have a short break or engage in day activities. There are currently 27 carers and 32 service users within the Sutton Shared Lives Service, including respite and day support. 

Shared Lives carers must usually live in the London Borough of Sutton, have the physical space in their home to support someone, and have some experience or knowledge of caring for or supporting people. Shared Lives carers can be individuals or couples, with children or without. Current Shared Lives carers reflect the local community so can often be matched with specific cultural or religious needs of the Shared Lives users. 

All Shared Lives carers have had full reference and background checks and have been approved by the Encompass Registered Manager. Full training is provided before being matched with service users as well as ongoing support and development. Shared Lives carers and service users are carefully matched and a worker from the Shared Lives Service will visit regularly to review and ensure arrangements are working. 

The Sutton Shared Lives Service is regularly reviewed by the Care Quality Commission and is currently rated ‘Good’ across all five domains (safe, effective, caring, responsive, and well-led).


Sutton Shared Lives carers receive a weekly support fee which is calculated based on the needs of the individual for whom they are caring. For the long term service users, the current support fees range from Band 3 (£285,27 per week) to Band 6 (£451.25) per week). 

Diagram 1: Breakdown of support fee bands (long term service users) 

Source: Encompass LATC (June 2023)

The chart above shows that currently there are five service users in Band 3 (£285.27), eleven in Band 4 (£321.57), and ten in Bands 5 (£357.88) and 6 (£451.25) combined.

In addition to the weekly support fee, Shared Lives carers also receive rent payments through housing benefit and a contribution of £79.45 per week from the service user towards food and utilities. The current local housing allowance is £103.56 per week for Outer South London Broad Rental Market Area (BRMA) and £116.19 for Outer South West London BRMA.

For service users using the service on a respite basis, the fees are charged nightly and the amount paid is based on the needs of the service user. Currently fees range from £62.33 to £135 per night.

Day Support

In addition to accommodation, some service users are assessed by their social worker as requiring support to access day activities through the Shared Lives scheme. Service users receiving day support will usually have a dedicated day support carer who is separate from their main carer. Day support rate is £10 per hour. 

Day support activities may include:

    • Supporting the service user to undertake activities they enjoy such as walks, shopping, going for a coffee, visiting museums and other attractions
    • Supporting the service user to attend a day centre, training course, or voluntary work
    • Accompanying the service user to visit family or friends

In instances where day support is being provided by the main carer, when respite care is provided, the respite carer will ensure that the day activities continue to take place and will invoice for this at the end of the respite period. 

Our Shared Lives Market

There are currently 32 service users within the Sutton Shared Lives Service, 26 of whom are placed on a long-term basis, and 6 on a short break/respite basis. 

Diagram 2: Age breakdown of long term service users

Source: Adult Social Care Sutton (June 2023)

Of the 26 service users using the Shared Lives Service on a long term basis, 16 are aged 18-64 and 10 are aged 65+. 

Diagram 3: Gender breakdown of long term service users

Source: Adult Social Care Sutton (June 2023)

Of the 26 service users using the Shared Lives Service on a long term basis, 16 identify as female and 10 as male.

As part of the adult social care assessment process, individuals who are identified as having an eligible need for ongoing care and support have their ‘primary support reason’ identified and recorded. Individuals may have a number of identified needs, however a primary reason for support will always be identified. Learning disability support is recorded as the primary support reason for 87.5% of Sutton’s Shared Lives service users.

Length of stay varies by service user. The length of stay of current long term service users ranges from 6 months to over 25 years, whilst for short term service users it ranges from 12 nights to 42 nights. 

Diagram 4: Length of Stay (long term service users)

Source: Adult Social Care Sutton (June 2023)

The chart above shows the length of stay of the long term service users. Sixteen service users have been in the service for 0-10 years and ten have been in the service for 10 years or more.

Shared Lives Carers

There are currently 27 carers within the Sutton Shared Lives Service. Of these 19 offer long term support only, and eight offer both long term and respite support. Some Shared Lives carers are supporting more than one service user. 

Where we want to be

The Council supports the Government vision to build a community where everyone lives a full life, regardless of the support that they need.

The Council is currently reviewing the demand for Shared Lives placements for adults with learning disabilities and/or mental health needs and older people. The outcome of the review will enable the Council to develop a strategy for further developing the Shared Lives Service to provide an additional mainstream accommodation option, short or long term, for people in need of a supported setting.

Challenges and Market Influencers

Shared lives is rated as the highest-quality and safest form of social care, yet it accounts for less than 1% of total long-term social care in the UK by people who are being supported. Raising awareness about person-centred models of care such as Shared Lives is needed so that people are aware of it, want to access it and are made aware of the opportunity and benefits of becoming a Shared Lives carer in the borough.