John Wilberforce, Social Franchise Manager for Homeshare UK reflects on his career within social care so far, and how Homeshare allows people to live independently at home for longer.

I have had the privilege to work in social care for over 25 years in the UK, and whilst it has been difficult, frustrating, tiring and at times upsetting, it has also been fulfilling, rewarding and sometimes an absolute joy. I witnessed the incredible sacrifices that some people make for others which instilled a wonderful sense of “community” into my working day.

In my time, social care has changed enormously. When I was growing up as a teenager, my memories were that older people inevitably ended up in “Old Folk’s Homes” as we used to call them – big old buildings behind huge gates and fences, sheltered and isolated from the community.

In the late 1990s, we started to see the beginnings of care delivery to individuals in their own homes. People started to make informed choices to remain where they were most comfortable and independent for as long as they were able to – in some ways this was the birth of “Domiciliary Care” as we know it today. Around the same time, and for the next 10 years – we saw more varied types of alternatives to the “Old Folk’s Homes”, such as sheltered living facilities, and extra care schemes – some with staff teams on site 24 hours a day, others with nothing more than a warden for a few hours in the day time.

During this time, life expectancy in the UK was also rising, with increased expectations on the state and financial pressures on the individual were rising quickly as well. As a society, we are still no closer to finding a viable and coherent solution to the growing “social care funding crisis”. It has been worsening for decades, especially in the last decade of austerity with swathing cuts to public services, local authorities had less budget to support care services, more people are forced to sell their own homes to pay for the care themselves – the word “crisis” is sadly accurate and one of the most pressing concerns for our futures.

The Homeshare proposition will never be the complete answer to this complex conundrum – but its potential undoubtedly helps a great deal. Older people can remain at home for much longer, and the scale and scope of their need for “paid support” can be delayed and lessened relatively easily in this way. In addition, there are significant social benefits to be had from the arrangement – people will be less isolated, more socially included and everybody benefits from the companionship that the arrangement brings.

A Householder from Homeshare Living described their Homeshare match;

“It has been life changing… especially in the dark winter evenings. It really has made a positive change in my life having someone so kind and friendly around and knowing that I am not alone.”

As we expand Homeshare programmes with our new Social Franchise model across the UK, we can ensure Homeshare is an accessible option for all.

John Wilberforce, UK Social Franchise Manager | 07825 956514