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Shared Lives Week 2015

Posted 03:51PM on Tuesday 20 October 2015

It’s Shared Lives Week 2015 – a time to come together to promote Shared Lives, raise awareness of the great work that is being done and make sure that people who could benefit from Shared Lives learn about how it could be an option for them.

Our Families Matter Shared Lives Service does fantastic work every day here in Northern Ireland. We caught up with one of our amazing Shared Lives Carers, Jennifer Burtonwood, to find out more about what being a Shared Lives Carer really means…

“I have been supporting David for the past 13 years. He is now 22 years of age. David has Di George syndrome whereby he has limited speech and mobility although he can walk with some assistance. He also has various health issues but is a very happy and sociable individual.

As a Shared Lives Carer I support David in a variety of ways. I care for David’s hygiene, showering etc. I also make sure he has a well–balanced social life. He attends a Day Centre four days a week and I am supporting David by endeavouring to secure a fifth day for him by being his advocate and persisting to challenge the local authorities for David’s much needed fifth day. David also attends a club in a local church which I checked out last year and now he is a valued member.

As David has various medical conditions I support him by attending all his hospital appointments with him. An example of this is that David wears certain special boots which are only replaced every 18 months. I make sure he gets the best footwear he requires and has the boots replaced once a year.

The support provided by the Shared Lives Service for me is essential. One way this is provided is through the various training courses I attend which I enjoy. I also have my own Social Worker who supports me and my family in a very friendly inclusive manner.

There are also various fun days and support group meetings which are so vital. We always have a trip out every June and in December we have a Christmas party. It’s fantastic for David and myself plus other members of my family to meet and befriend other Carers.

My son and daughter both provide respite for David through the Shared Lives Service. This is a wonderful aspect of Shared Lives as I can have a break knowing David is respected, loved and cared for by family members.”

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Service, or perhaps you want to become a Shared Lives Carer, please contact Liz Palmer on 028 9074 1271 or email