About shared lives

Shared Lives is where an approved carer shares their home and family life with you to give care, support and housing.

You'd normally live in the carer's home, so you could describe Shared Lives as 'fostering for adults', but helping you to make the most of your independence.

Carers come from a range of backgrounds with different family circumstances, and get support and guidance from a Shared Lives officer who will make sure the home is suitable and safe.

We'll do a background check on your carer before they'e approved and they'll get training from us. We'll make sure that you're matched with a carer who you'll get on with and you can visit them or have a trial stay in their home to make sure you're both happy. You can stop the process at any time.

We might not have enough time to match you with a carer if you need emergency placement. If this happens, we'll make sure that you have as much information as possible before you meet them.

Help you can get

Shared Lives carers offer:

  • long or short term live-in support in their home
  • short breaks such as day care or overnight stays
  • support during the day from the carer's home

Your carer will invite you to join in their family life and community, including anything from doing the gardening together to going to a festival. They will help you to be as independent as possible with such things as your personal care, using public transport, doing the shopping or preparing your own meals.

Shared Lives carers can also help you to visit your doctor, take your medication and manage your money.

Who can use Shared Lives

You could use Bristol Shared Lives if you're over 18 years old and you need help with everyday living or you already receive care services.

You could have:

  • learning difficulties
  • dementia
  • mental health issues
  • another disability
How to apply

If you're interested in living in a Shared Lives Placement or having Respite with Shared Lives you will need to talk to your social worker to see if you would be eligible.

They will then be able to make a referral to the service on your behalf.

For more information about Bristol Shared Lives, fill out the Bristol Shared Lives online form or call us on 0117 352 5488.

If you do not have a social worker but feel you need this type of service you will need to make an adult care referral for advice and to request a Care Act Assessment.

You will then find out whether you would be eligible for Shared Lives or other services to meet any identified needs.

Become a Shared Lives carer

You could be a Shared Lives carer if you have:

  • a home that you own or rent
  • a spare room
  • previous experience of providing care or support to a person either professionally or informally as a parent, relative or volunteer
  • the support of your household

You could work from home as a self employed carer and make a real difference to people's lives while earning a placement fee.

As well as offering support to the person you're caring for, you'll need to write brief notes on their progress such as achievements or setbacks. We use this information to help our social work reviews with you.

We welcome new carers from different backgrounds and you may have a partner, family or be single.

You don't need to have done relevant care work, as we provide full training and support to people with enthusiasm and informal experience.

Find more information about becoming a Shared Lives Carer.

If you want to find out more about being a carer in Bristol Shared Lives before making an application:

After you contact us

A Shared Lives officer will visit your home to make sure it's suitable and safe.

If you decide to apply, they will support you through the assessment process. This includes checking your references with the Disclosure & Barring Service and asking for a medical report from your doctor.

They'll arrange any training you need.

After this, the Shared Lives officer will report to the independent Approval Panel who decide if you are suitable. This is a group of professionals such as social workers.

You will be invited to this meeting to talk about your application and interest in the role if you want to.

If you want to appeal against a panel decision, the Shared Lives Service will guide you through the procedure.

Matching you with the person you support

You'll be carefully matched with whoever you support so the placement works for both of you. We'll tell you about their needs and introduce you both so you have time to get to know one another. This will include a short visit.

We'll only go ahead if you're both happy and you can stop the process at any time without criticism or blame.

If a vulnerable adult needs an emergency placement, we might not have enough time to fully match you before the placement starts. If this happens, we'll make sure that you have as much information as possible before you meet.


Our free Shared Lives training courses are a mixture of online e-learning and in-person courses. 

The training is mandatory for the role unless you have evidence of already completing the same or equivalent training recently, such as:

  • first aid
  • health and safety
  • Mental Capacity Act
  • food safety
  • medication
  • safeguarding adults 
  • child protection
  • equalities , diversity and discrimination
  • fraud protection
  • GDPR

Or any other courses relevant to the needs of the person you support.

Ongoing support

You'll have a Shared Lives Officer allocated to you for guidance and support. They'll visit you every week for the first weeks of a new placement, after which they'll be in regular contact and you will have an annual review.

During these visits, you can talk about:

  • any training you may need
  • health and safety
  • equalities issues
  • comments and complaints
  • accidents or incidents
  • your home
  • personal issues
  • any other support needs
  • Shared Lives updates
  • anything else you need to ask about

We can also help with paperwork, finances and benefits for the person you're supporting, and reviews.

We'll put you in touch with other Shared Lives carers as part of our local network.

You can contact any member of the team on sharedlives@bristol.gov.uk or 0117 352 5488, 9am to 5pm Monday to Thursday, and 9am to 4.30pm Friday. We also offer an out-of-hours Emergency Duty Service on evenings and weekends; call 01454 615165.

How Shared Lives is monitored

Your Shared Lives officer will visit you every three months to make sure the person you're caring for is getting good care and support.

Bristol Shared Lives as a whole is inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). 

The CQC will monitor the records held by the team and assess the quality and safety of the care and support we offer. As part of this inspection, they may want to visit your home.

CQC meets some carers and service users to find out how they feel about the support they get from Bristol Shared Lives.

Inspection report

At the last inspection by the Care Quality Commission published on 6 January 2018, Bristol City Council Shared Lives was rated as Good.

The following areas were inspected as:

Is the service safe: Good
Is the service effective: Good
Is the service caring: Good
Is the service responsive: Good
Is the service well-led? Good

Insurance and Shared Lives Plus

We'll arrange and pay for your carer's insurance, as well as membership of Shared Lives Plus, a national charity that supports Shared Lives carers.

Membership benefits include:

  • information, guidance and legal support at any time
  • confidential support from professionals
  • the chance to make comments and suggestions on a national level
  • more training
  • events
  • newsletters