21 October 2015

Caring for Jodie - we’re keeping it in the family!

Why Tracy took over from her mum to look after woman who has disabilities for council’s ‘Shared Lives’ scheme for vulnerable adults

Tracy Martin’s parents were foster carers. One of the girls they cared for was Jodie, a 12 year-old girl who had learning disabilities and mental health needs.

Now, 23 years later, with Tracy's mum sadly no longer with us, Tracy has moved back home to care for Jodie with dad’s support. There's much more about Tracy below!

Her story that has come about through Brighton & Hove City Council’s ‘Shared Lives’ scheme, which supports adults who are unable to live independently.

Shared Lives links up vulnerable adults with carers who provide support and accommodation in their own home. It’s like fostering, but for adults who need extra support rather than children.

The Shared Lives team is looking for more carers. It can be either on a full-time, short-breaks or sessional basis.

The team is holding an information event at the Jubilee Library in central Brighton on Thursday 22 October from 11am to 6pm. If you’d like to know more about Shared Lives scheme the team would love to meet you.

All kinds of people can be Shared Lives carers: couples or singles, with or without children, home owners or tenants. An approved carer can support up to three adults at a time.

Full training and support are provided. You are paid based on the needs of each person you support. Being a Shared Lives carer can be a rewarding alternative to a ‘normal’ 9-5 job.

If you’d like to know more about the council’s Shared Lives scheme, please:

  • call (01273) 295550 for a friendly chat
  • email info.sharedlives@brighton-hove.gov.uk or
  • visit www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/sharedlives

Tracy Martin's parents were foster carers. Around 23 years they started caring for a 12 year-old called Jodie who has learning disabilities and mental health needs.

When Jodie turned 18 Tracy’s parents decided to move from fostering to being Shared Lives carers so that they could continue to care for Jodie.

When Tracy's mum passed away three years ago Tracy decided to become a Shared Lives carer herself and moved back into her father's house in order to make sure Jodie could still be looked after.

Tracy, aged 49, said: "I'm also a former foster carer, so it seemed a natural thing to do.

"Jodie isn't a lodger. It's much more than that. I've still got two of my children living at home with me and we very all much treat Jodie as part of the family. That's the whole point about the Shared Lives scheme.

“Jodie's got a brilliant sense of humour, and we go out to the pub together and on holiday together.

“My dad is still very much involved as a Shared Lives carer, and my husband also pitches in - he does the breakfast!

"It's important to always bear in mind that Jodie is an adult who has the right to make her own choices about things. You have to respect that.

"Being a Shared Lives carer is incredibly rewarding. It's a great feeling to be able to share your time and love with people who need it.

“I'm not saying it's always easy. More than anything you have to be patient and calm and you also need a good sense of humour. 

“Jodie can be up and down just like everyone else, and sometimes I need to give her a lot of my time. It's important to have routines and stick to them, because change can cause her anxiety.

“But Jodie is a very busy woman as well - she's out four days a week at day centres and also goes to a socialising club called Spiral on Saturdays. So I get plenty of time off during the day.

“I think being a Shared Lives carer is a vocation. It is a full-time commitment and the payments I get from the council are enough to make it a great alternative to a 'normal' 9-5 job. 

“But it doesn't feel like a job to me.

“I've always had great support from the council's Shared Lives team. The training is excellent and most of the time you're fine, but whenever something crops up or you want some advice they're always there for you.

"I think there are so many people out there who all have so much to give. I'd definitely recommend being a Shared Lives carer. 

“If you want to know more about it then all you have to do is pick up the phone.”