Shared lives carer

As a shared lives carer, you’ll open up your home and family life to include someone who needs care and support.

This might include:

  • supporting them with everyday tasks such as getting up or cooking
  • teaching them new skills or how to live independently
  • assisting them to do social activities or access the local community
  • going on holiday together
  • going to family parties and events.

You could do this for:

  • a few hours a week, for example be a regular daytime visitor
  • a short time such as a weekend or respite period
  • or you could support someone full time, where they come and live with you.

You wouldn’t have ‘working hours’ like a care worker role – it’s all about matching people who get on well together so that it feels more like family life. This can be a very rewarding role as you build a close connection to the people you support.

Shared lives carers are self-employed and there would be an agreement about how much care you’re expected to provide, and what other support’s in place for the individual - this makes it a flexible role.

Michelle Beasor is a carer with Shared Lives South West and says:

“I'm a qualified nurse and have cared for people since I was 17 years old. After I had children, I decided to look after people with learning disabilities in my own home. It was the best decision I ever made! I was still able to fulfil my wishes to care for people, but at the same time have the flexibility that being self-employment brings.

The rewards can be huge - watching and helping someone make their own decisions and blossom into independence is very rewarding."

Watch this video about what it's like to work as a shared lives carer. 




Everyone working in social care needs English, number, digital and employability skills including team work and problem solving skills. What core skills do I need to work in social care outlines some of the skills you need and has short activities to help you think about transferable skills from your previous experiences.

There are also some specific skills needed to work in this role. These include:

  • good communication skills
  • good organisational skills
  • patience
  • resilience
  • being flexible
  • time management
  • problem solving.

You don’t necessarily need any qualifications to become a shared lives carer. What’s really important is that you have the right values and behaviours to work in social care.

It might also be helpful to have a social care qualification such as a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care, but you can do these once you start the job.

It might be useful to have experience working in a similar role or with vulnerable adults. You could gain this experience through a work placement, from your personal life, through volunteering or as part of a traineeship or apprenticeship. 

If you’re interested in working as a shared lives carer, there’s lots of advice about finding a role on the Starting a career page.

You could contact your local Shared Lives Scheme about opportunities – there are schemes across the country who can advise you about becoming a shared lives carer in your area.

For example if you live in the South West, contact Shared Lives South West.

You might also find vacancies online or through your local council. 


When you start in your role you should do an induction which includes training necessary for your role such as health and safety, first aid and moving and handling. You might also receive specific training such as autism awareness, communication skills or working with people with dementia.

When in your role you could do a vocational qualification such as a Diploma in Health and Social Care and continuing professional development qualification or training. 

Your employer might pay for you to do these qualifications (they could apply for the Workforce Development Fund to help), or you could apply for an Advanced Learner Loan to pay for them yourself.

Michelle Beasor works for Shared Lives South West and she says:

"The scheme ensures that carers are up to date with the necessary training such as first aid and safe guarding. 

During my time with shared lives I have become a carer supporter, which is a paid position. In this role I am able to support another carer if they have a bereavement or safeguarding issue."






Case studies

  • Phil Hodgson
    Phil is a business support office for Shared Lives South West.
  • Teresa Walker
    Teresa is a shared lives carer with Shared Lives South West.

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