Janet Finch-Saunders, Member of Welsh Parliament for Aberconwy, has paid a special visit to the home of a dedicated carer.

Janet Smith, cares for two people in her own home as part of the PSS Shared Lives scheme.

Shared Lives is often likened to fostering, but designed for adults who need a bit of extra support to live their most independent life.

PSS Shared Lives matches specially trained carers, like Janet Smith and her husband Brian, with an adult who needs support, and they all live together in the carer’s home, like a family.

Janet, who has been a Shared Lives carer for more than 20 years, currently supports brothers, Gareth, 65, and Medwyn, 61, alongside her husband, Brian, from their home in Aberconwy.

Mrs Finch-Saunders' visit happened with the aim of raising awareness about Shared Lives as an excellent career choice for people looking to make a difference in the lives of others from their own home. It’s also an effective and cost-efficient innovation in social care that’s been improving the lives of local people in North Wales for over 20 years.

Janet was 45 with a young family when she first decided to become a Shared Lives carer.

She said: “It really benefited my children, who were six and 16 when Gareth and Medwyn first came to live with us. It meant they grew up to be compassionate, open minded people. It's no surprise that both my children went on to work in health and social care too.”

Janet Finch-Saunders, whose key focuses are making sure there’s more investment in health and social care services, said: “Shared Lives provides the most personalised form of care I have seen in North Wales.

“It is wonderful how individuals requiring support become part of a family in the community and get to live as independently as possible.

“This model of care has the best interest of the individuals at heart. The bonus for local authorities in Wales is that it is actually considerably cheaper than putting people in care homes.

“With social care costs crippling the public sector, it is a no brainer for local authorities like Conwy County Borough Council to be referring more individuals to PSS”.

An independent review found that Shared Lives has the capacity to save local authorities substantially in comparison to supported living and residential care, ranging from £8,000 to £30,000 per person (depending on support needs) annually.

CEO Lesley Dixon of PSS expressed her hope that more people will take an interest in Shared Lives as a career choice, whether or not they’ve worked in the health and social care sector.

Lesley said: "“I’m delighted Janet has been able to see the incredible impact of Shared Lives firsthand. We hope it encourages more genuine, big-hearted people to consider Shared Lives as a valid career option that allows them to make a difference in other people’s lives right from their front room”.

You don’t need qualifications to be a Shared Lives carer, just a spare room in your home and the motivation to provide top notch support to people who need it. All PSS Shared Lives carers go through comprehensive and ongoing training. While Shared Lives carers are self-employed, they are supported by a dedicated development worker and welcomed into a warm community of fellow carers and PSS colleagues.