shared lives carers happy flowerAnne and John are Shared Lives Carers with Independent Options, after transitioning from foster caring when they met Aaron. Here’s their story.

“Aaron had been in foster care for ten years when he first came to us as a foster placement aged 14, having lived at 27 different addresses in that time. Straight away Aaron seemed to fit right in with our family; there’s my husband, John, along with our cocker spaniel, Angus, and our cat, Ozzie, we don’t have any birth children. It was clear that Aaron both wanted and needed to belong to a family where he could settle permanently and, when the time came, we made the decision to transition from fostering to becoming Shared Lives Carers.

Initially Aaron struggled to settle with us due to his complex attachment issues and a fear that his placement with us would come to an end, which he had experienced previously. He is incredibly resilient and has overcome many challenges in his life, so seeing Aaron settle in to our family has been hugely rewarding. Aaron is so happy living here, and we are just as happy. The initial hurdles we overcame looking after Aaron strengthened our resolve to care for him even further, and we have become a very close family.

As Aaron approached 18 it was clear that he would be unable to live independently, and it was agreed that he should stay with us, so he underwent a social care assessment, and provision was made for a Shared Lives placement with John and I. We were approved as his Shared Lives Carers on his 18th birthday!  Our placement is managed by Independent Options, and we have a dedicated Shared Lives manager who provides excellent support and carries out regular monitoring reviews – we were particularly impressed to receive their support even before Aaron was 18!

Aaron is 20 now, and since his transition, he has continued to thrive and we have endeavoured to support him to enjoy becoming a young adult and experience opportunities in his life as any young adult would. Aaron loves to go out on day trips and be busy, so in between college, youth clubs, football training and seeing friends and family, we always seem to be doing something!  Last year, Aaron went on a holiday organised by Independent Options with three other young men and two short breaks carers. He had an amazing time, and one of the carers has since become his short breaks carer, helping Aaron to become more independent while still feeling safe and secure.

Living with Aaron has led us on an incredible journey, from fostering to becoming shared lives carers, from watching a scared child blossom and develop, to overcoming challenges and having great fun together. John and I also realise how we have grown, what we have learnt about ourselves and what is important to us – sharing our lives has indeed enhanced our lives.”