It’s Shared Lives Week: 14-20 June 2021

Shared Lives Week happens every year in June. During Shared Lives Week, we celebrate the best of Shared Lives and show our gratitude for the amazing work of our Shared Lives carers.

A Shared Lives carer is someone who opens up their home and family life to include an adult with support needs.

The Shared Lives service at Grace Eyre is the oldest and longest running in the country. We help people with learning disabilities and/or autism create the independent life they want.

The theme of Shared Lives Week this year is ‘resilience’.

We know it’s been a tough year – and many Shared Lives carers have gone above and beyond the call of duty to carry on providing the best care to those they support.

Ruth Torjussen, a Shared Lives carer at Grace Eyre, is one of these people. We asked her how the last year has been and what it’s like to be a Shared Lives carer.

Meet Ruth, a Shared Lives carer

Ruth supports 3 people in her home. Sheila and Iris are pensioners and Carl is a young man in his twenties.

Everyone is quite independent on a day to day basis. Ruth cooks a main meal at dinner time, but apart from that everyone gets their own lunch and breakfast.

Each individual also has challenges that Ruth helps with.

Ruth said: “I support Sheila, Iris and Carl with their finances, their medicine and health appointments.”

How have things been during the pandemic?

Lockdowns over the last 15 months have been a big challenge for everyone, including Ruth, Iris, Sheila and Carl. But Ruth has done a great job keeping up morale in these difficult times.

Ruth said: “No one in our house likes to stay in all day. So, I organised a routine that involved morning walks and afternoon naps for the ladies. And to stop spirits sinking, I also made a big effort with food and puddings!”

Why did you become a Shared Lives carer?

Ruth heard about Shared Lives from a friend in London. She was attracted to the idea of working from her own home, saving a lot of unpaid time travelling from job to job in the care work she did.

Ruth said: “My interests are home-based; I like to write, grow food, and cook. My current house has plenty of room for the 3 people I support, so the ladies have their own living room which helps give me some privacy. A successful Shared Lives household is all about boundaries, not just for the benefit of the carer but for the people we support, too.”

Iris and Sheila

What skills does a Shared Lives carer need?

Shared Lives carers come from all walks of life and don’t need qualifications or experience, just the right attitude and a willingness to truly share their lives with another person. They also receive ongoing training in safeguarding, health and safety, first aid, movement and lifting, medicine and more.

Ruth said: “I think a kind, caring and empathetic disposition is the starting point, but the skills you also need are: the ability to keep a calm, stable, happy household in every area, food, cleanliness, etc. and with a regular routine.”

What benefits does Shared Lives offer to the people living with you?

Ruth said that Shared Lives gives people “the chance to live in a family home with people who care and respect them and treat them with dignity.”

People who live in a Shared Lives service benefit from support that makes a real difference in their lives. This can include things like new life experiences, a family network or getting involved in the local community.


Would you recommend being a Shared Lives carer and why?

Ruth said: “I would definitely recommend it to some people, it may not suit all. I think for people who don’t like the 9-5 but prefer to be self-employed with maybe several home-based interests and hobbies it can be a perfect set up. Obviously, all jobs have their challenges, but for me this is a great opportunity to have enough time to write, which is my main interest.”

During the three years Ruth has been a Shared Lives carer, she has written and published two novels: Friends and Neighbours and Return to Harlech, which was just released at the end of May.

Ruth added: “There is no way I could have done this in a normal care job.”

For more information

Are you interested in learning more about becoming a Grace Eyre Shared Lives carer?

Read our Frequently Asked Questions

You are also welcome to call us on 01273 201 903 or email

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