SHARED LIVES

For issues specific to autism / Asperger Syndrome.
Hello,

My 17 year old son (AS and mental ill health) is still lodging in a CAMHS unit (He was admitted in July and discharged in August) because social services cannot find anywhere for him to live (He cannot really come home due to child protection issues between his younger brother and himself). Shared Lives has been discussed as an option. However, my son is not very keen on living with another family. He wants to live in a group home with other young people and a member of staff overseeing support.

I am also a little emotionally torn about the prospect of my son living with a family - because his own family cannot keep him safe. Added to this, I am afraid that my son may detect a lack of equivalence between his status and the status of other family members or (on the other hand) that he may lose his bond with his real family as a result of living with another family group.

As you may tell, I am quite confused. My son has been told a little about Shared lives by a psychologist in the CAMHS unit, but I have been asked not to discuss accommodation options with him because funding has not been decided and so on.

Has anyone any experience of a loved one living in a Shared Lives provision? I just feel like I need to allay my own fears a little if this really is the only option.

Added to the mix, it is likely that my son will not be returning to college due to a farcical mix up with support and I will have to relay that information to him this Wednesday.

Thanks
H Janet
Cannot help you, I'm so sorry, but I just wanted to say hello and welcome. There are members on here with similar, probably not identical, experiences, who I hope will see your post and offer their advice.
Your son is far too old to forget that you are his Mum or forget his family surely? I suppose that, hard as it is, the most important thing is his wellbeing and happiness. I hope you find a good solution.
Kindest regards
E.
Hello Janet
The only way I possibly can reassure you is to explain that I was a child care officer. The teenagers that were accommodated into shared lives moved on in a positive way. The shared lives staff are trained to keep too much emotional attachment in check. You have every right to ask what the role involves.
Wishing you the best for both you and your son.
I have met several young men with LD who have experienced Shared Lives. I think whether or not it succeeds depends on a number of factors, obviously whether or not everyone gets on well together is a major factor. I do not consider it appropriate for my son with SLD because I want him to have a stable home, not be forced to move when the caring family changes or gets ill or old. That would mean yet another move. So whether your son would be better in one place with carers coming in and out, or in Shared Lives where there is stability for some time, but an inevitable move in the future, is the major decision. How come you are the one to have to break the news about the funding muck up?! After all, it wasn't your fault. Has someone chickened out of making a personal apology for the mess they've made?!
Hi Janet
I have no experience of shared lives, but positive experience of a care home run directly by the NAS. They have very few of their own care homes and in our experience neither Ss nor mental health team were aware such existed.

It's always a vicious circle of finding a place to find it gone by the time funding is agreed, or for funding to be available when there's no place. The situation is very stressful for anyone on the spectrum.
We have always found the placement ourselves then asked for the powers that be to ratify it and provide the funding... sometimes they did, sometimes they didn't .
Good luck
MrsA
My daughter was in supported living accommodation for 11 years, living in 2 different places during that time. In the end it didn't work for her. The staff felt that she wasn't co-operating with them in helping her to become independent - the whole idea was for her to be independent of them - but she felt that they were not giving her the support she needed. Eventually she moved back home, with the intention of moving into her own place along with one of her younger brothers, but that's another story.

That same younger brother did go for an interview and look around at another supported living facility, but the place went to someone else as it had not been made clear to our social worker that funding needed to be guaranteed before my son could accept the place.

I hope your son can access a place that suits him best. I do understand his loatheness to move in with a family.

Gilli
Hello,

Thank you for the very positive support. Our social worker came today to tell me (1) she was leaving to take another job and (2) that the wrangle over who funds what is still ongoing. So far Shared Lives seems to be the only option, but the social worker did ask me if I could find any other options that could be considered. It does concern me that a placement could break down or the Shared Lives providers could move on.

My son has always said he would prefer a group home with other young people, supervised by a resident member of staff. However, I do not know if anything like this exists. In addition, my son has been told that he will not be returning to college, so he is essentially without occupation. He has always found unstructured time difficult to deal with and, with increasing pressure for him to leave the CAMHS unit, I am afraid there will be insufficient time to find a placement, organise transition, sort out activities and keep my son calm before he leaves Children's Services in April. Although he is a gentle and sensitive young man, he is becoming increasingly restless on the unit and there have been one or two incidents where his boisterous behaviour (rather typical of a bored 17 year old) has upset other patients (who are in mental crisis).

I can see Shared Lives as been an interim step until something more permanent and appropriate comes along (perhaps even returning home if he and his brother are fully occupied with education, training and leisure activities) but I can also see this situation reaching a crisis point very soon.
Thanks for update...it sounds very difficult and of course I have no helpful advice, sorry. Just wanted to greet and welcome you and let you know I listened, for wot it's worth...VERY little! And say I hope things get sorted as soon as possible. :)
net

you ask
My son has always said he would prefer a group home with other young people, supervised by a resident member of staff. However, I do not know if anything like this exists.
yes it does, but I don't know where to tell you go to find out about such a service in your area. I know it exists in my area (Surrey) because my niece's MIL works in such a group home. It should be something your LA have information on. I believe that Shared Lives used to be known as "Adult Placement". If you haven't already found their website this is the link
http://sharedlivesplus.org.uk/
Not helpful to you, sorry, but just wanted to say how sad it is seeing other folks caring situations and how hard it often is to get the right support.
Thinking about you. Hope you keep us updated when you can. Good luck.