Duncan and his carers Anita and James showcase the positive impact, influence and life-affirming change East Lothian's Shared Lives Service has on supported individuals and carers.

Image of Duncan sitting in a chair talking.  Text reads Shared Lives Service, Duncan's story.With the support of Shared Lives participants, Duncan and his carers, Anita and James, East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership have released a specially created promotional video showcasing the positive impact, influence, and life-affirming change that East Lothian’s Shared Lives Service can have for supported individuals and carers themselves.  


The Shared Lives Service involves the recruitment of carers, who open their homes and lives to adults with a variety of support needs, providing companionship and practical support.  Shared Lives carers offer a safe and welcoming environment where people feel valued, respected, and empowered to achieve their own goals.

The service is all about creating meaningful experiences between people who share common interests and values.  Shared Lives arrangements range from offering support for a few hours a week (day support), to overnights stays (short breaks) as well as providing temporary or permanent residences for individuals (long term care).

Duncan has lived with his Anita and James for over 15 years.  Reflecting on his experience, Duncan says, “Shared Lives helped me become the person I am now.  When I first started Shared Lives, I wasn’t too sure at first.  But over time I felt more comfort and happiness. 

“Shared Lives has given me so many opportunities.  I’ve gained so much confidence and independence.  I don’t know what I would be doing, or where I would be, without Anita and James.”

Shared Lives helped me become the person I am now.  I’ve gained so much confidence and independence. 

People supported by the service really benefit from being included in family life and integration into their local communities.  Shared Lives Carers are self-employed and receive a fee for their work.  However, the most crucial part of the process is matching individuals to carers and their families.  Both parties have a choice, and this is fundamental to the success of the service.

Anita comments, “The process to become a Shared Lives carer includes a comprehensive assessment process, which looks at different aspects of who you are and your home life.  While this can take time, during the process you build up a relationship with the Shared Lives Coordinators.  They get to know you and you them.   It’s about reassurance.  If my birth child was going to be cared for, I would want to know that that carer has been fully checked and assessed.”

Having specific qualifications or pre-existing caring experience is not necessary to become a Shared Lives Carer.  All training is given from the outset, and the East Lothian Shared Lives Team are on hand to provide valuable support and advice throughout for both individuals and carers.   There are additionally lots of opportunities for upskilling, learning and education along the way too.

What is most important is that Shared Lives Carers have a set of personal qualities that enable individuals to achieve their potential and be part of their own communities.

James adds, “The best part of Shared Lives for me is the sense of pride that I get.  Seeing Duncan now, what he has achieved, how much he has grown, both in his confidence and ability.  It provides such a sense of satisfaction. Knowing that you’ve helped him to achieve this, and how proud he is of himself, that’s what’s makes the difference.”

Fiona Wilson, Chief Officer of East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership comments, “We are incredibly grateful to Duncan, Anita and James for sharing their experiences with us. The Shared Lives service provides a fantastic model of support, and we would love to offer this welcoming, inclusive, and truly beneficial programme to more people.  However, in order to do this, we need more carers.” 

If you think you could provide a day’s support, a weekend, or perhaps longer, to an individual like Duncan, then get in touch.  We’d love to hear from you and tell you more about what the Shared Lives service involves.

Duncan adds, “I personally feel Shared Lives gives something back to society.  It has totally changed my life.  Shared Lives, and Anita and James have made my dreams come true.”  

To find out more about Shared Lives Programme visit www.eastlothian.gov.uk/sharedlives

Hear Duncan's Story: 

Published: Tuesday, 5th December 2023