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University passes on advice to help disabled people and their Shared Lives carers through lockdown

Disabled young people and adults will be able to benefit from health and wellbeing advice from Swansea University as they cope with life in lockdown.

Shared Lives schemes match individuals with a carer who can support them by sharing their homes and lives together. People using Shared Lives support move into the carer’s home, or visit for the day, or a short break.

Rated by inspectors as the best and safest form of care, it allows people to become connected to a Shared Lives carer’s friends, family and community, rather than being isolated in more traditional forms of care.

However, the coronavirus guidelines mean that day centres that many people in Shared Lives would normally use, are closed, and so their carers are having to provide care 24/7 without any break and against UK guidance. This can cause extraordinary strain, especially where people may not understand the reasons for the restrictions placed on their liberty.

Shared Lives Plus Wales Development Officer Kathryn Morgan said: “Shared Lives carers are incredibly resilient, nurturing and caring. They support people who have mental ill health, who are living with a dementia diagnosis, young adults and people with learning disabilities.

“It’s a challenging time for everyone – and especially carers who are caring in their own home without a break.”

But now some help is at hand, thanks to resources developed to support University staff through the coronavirus pandemic.

The University’s Information Services and Systems wellbeing co-ordinator Colette Leleu said: “We have a wide range of wellbeing content available for our staff to access on the intranet – these range from advice and tips to links to live exercise classes and videos.

“Our staff’s health and wellbeing is really important to us but at the University we see ourselves as part of the community so if we have something that could useful for other people we are happy to pass it on.

“We are all in the same situation at the moment. This is such a strange time for everyone - I believe that building new relationships and sharing will be crucial to helping us get through this.”

Shared Lives carers will be able to use video conferencing, its website and daily update bulletins to offer the new content to its users.

Kathryn said: “We are really grateful for any kind of support that can help us to promote Shared Lives carers’ physical and mental wellbeing. The University’s resources will be such a help and we’ll be able to share them not only here in Swansea but also with carers across Wales and the UK.”

Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor for Physical Activity, Sport, Health and Wellbeing Professor Gareth Stratton added: “Swansea University is a knowledge-rich institution and we welcome any opportunity to actively share our expertise, practice and resources with our communities.

“Shared Lives presents a wonderful opportunity to help young people and adults who need care and support to thrive and flourish during this challenging period. We are particularly proud to support the amazing contributions that carers make to promote quality of life for everyone.”

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