Doris is one of our Shared Lives carers in Haringey. Doris is from Ghana and settled in the UK 32 years ago, back in Ghana she used to work as a community health nurse. Due to family commitments Doris couldn’t continue nursing, she wanted to work from home and knew she wanted to care for people. That's when Doris when started fostering George, he was 7 years old with special needs. When George became 18 Doris wanted to keep supporting him, she understood his emotional and physical needs, so after 11 years of fostering him he had become part of the family! That's when Doris moved from fostering to Shared Lives, George has now been supported by Doris for over 20 years.
Why did you choose to keep looking after George?
Doris: We’d been caring for him for 11 years, we knew his emotional and physical needs. Letting him go was a problem because we had become so attached.
What was it like moving from foster care to Shared Lives?
Doris: Almost the same, but the support is different. If he needs something it’s not as straight forward to get things you need from Adult services.
Now we’re with Ategi we get everything we need.
What does it mean to be a Shared Lives carer?
Doris: Sometimes when I look at George, and think about that he came to us when he was only 7.... I’m happy I've been using my time to look after him giving him all the love care and support he needs to develop. Sometimes it’s challenging, but it’s rewarding.
Would you recommend Shared Lives?
Doris: I’d encourage someone to be an Ategi Shared Lives carer, the support you get from your managers is good, you get training to develop your skills and you can look after people. We also have carer forums that are also useful.
What do you enjoy about being a Shared Lives carer?
Doris: We have our coordinators and we have 24 hour support. Even though we’re working at home, it doesn’t mean we’re alone. We have professionals around us, GP’s, OT’s teachers - we’re working as part of team.
How does Ategi support you?
Doris: There’s regular meetings/ video calls to discuss George and my role.
We did effective communication training, health and safety, eating and drinking. Self guided. We do those so we have the knowledge and the skills to guide us to do our work.
How does Shared Lives help the person you support?
Doris: Ategi ensure that everything is in place for him, make sure his education, medical, financial needs are met.
George is non-verbal, he uses body language. We understand his different noises, communicate with him using simple words, support him with his concentration talk to him with facial expressions. We encourage him to feed himself. With personal care he can’t do much but he does little things to cooperate. He chooses his fruit to eat. We encourage him to make his own choices.
What advice would you offer to new Shared Lives carers?
Doris: Just try to do your work to the highest level. Work as part of a team, you don’t need to isolate yourselves. Take advantage of the support offered to you. Give the person you support all the support they need to help them develop their skills and independence and you’ll be happy. Give them love and security and teach them skills to develop.
I’m happy I've been using my time to look after him giving him all the love care and support he needs to develop. Sometimes it’s challenging but it’s rewarding.
I’d encourage someone to be an Ategi Shared Lives carer, the support you get from your managers is good, you get training to develop your skills and you can look after people.
Read more stories on our Ategi people page