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Essex County Council - Provider Hub
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Matching Process

A Shared Lives arrangement can only be successful if the Shared Lives Host is able to meet the person’s needs and if the person and the Shared Lives Host(s) and other people in their household all get on well together. Essex Shared Lives scheme therefore gathers together all the important information about the person and about our Shared Lives Hosts and we use this to work out which Shared Lives Hosts will suit the person. This is known as matching.

All our Shared Lives Hosts will be properly recruited, assessed, and trained by us before they are able to start working with the person or anybody else who requires support. During this time, we build up our knowledge of them and their families and of the skills and experience the Hosts have to enable them to support someone.

Once we receive a referral for the person who will be using or living in a Shared Lives arrangement, we start to build up our knowledge of the person and their needs, wishes and aspirations. 

These are the sorts of things we consider when working out which of our Shared Lives Hosts might be suitable for the person:

  • the person’s assessed needs and wishes
  • any identified risks/ risk management
  • the skills, knowledge, and experience of the Shared Lives Host(s)
  • the personal interests that the person and the Shared Lives Host(s) have
  • the location of the Shared Lives Host(s) home
  • the facilities and accommodation the Shared Lives Host(s) can offer the person
  • the cultures and/or faiths that are important to the person and the Shared Lives Host(s)

If we find any Shared Lives Hosts whose skills can be matched with the person’s needs, we will give the person and/or the person’s representative information about all of them.  The information will be in a format that the person can understand easily. We will also give information about the person to those Shared Lives Hosts that we think will make a good match with the person.

If the person and/or the persons representative would then like to meet up with one or all of the Shared Lives Hosts we will make arrangements for this.  This enables the person and the Shared Lives Host(s) to find out more about each other and to see for themselves whether the person has things in common after all.  This kind of visit is called an introduction and is part of the matching process.  An introduction can include an overnight stay if the person is thinking about having short breaks with the Shared Lives Host(s) or of living with them for a while.

We will make sure that the person and/or the person’s representative understands the matching process and that all our Shared Lives Hosts understand it too.  As it is so important that the person and the Shared Lives Host(s) get on well together, they both have a say in whether the arrangement could be a suitable one.  It will not cause a problem if either the person or the Shared Lives Host(s) does not wish to go ahead with more introductory visits or with making a longer-term arrangement.

The decision about whether a Shared Lives arrangement is right for the person is a very important one.  We understand that it takes time and proper information to make this sort of decision and that the opportunity for the person and the person’s family or representative to visit and ‘test drive’ an arrangement will be a helpful part of that process. 

An essential part of making a decision is having all the information the person needs beforehand. The person will be given information about Essex Shared Lives scheme and about any Shared Lives Hosts who may be suitable for the person as part of our referral and matching procedures.  Visiting the Shared Lives Host(s) adds to this by giving them and the person and/or the person’s representative an opportunity to experience the arrangement directly.  The Shared Lives Host(s) can also visit the person if the person wishes.

The person will usually be able to:

  • meet the Shared Lives Host(s) and other members of their family or household and find out what they are really like
  • see the house, the bedroom (if the person will be staying there) and the neighbourhood
  • have a meal there
  • have an overnight stay (if the person will be having short breaks or living there)
  • see what kinds of records are kept by the Shared Lives Host(s)
  • speak in private with other people who are already making use of a Shared Lives arrangement
  • ask any questions they may have.

The person and/or the person’s representative can visit as many times as the person wishes until the person feels comfortable about going ahead with a longer-term arrangement.  However, either the person or the Shared Lives Host(s) can call a halt to the introductions at any point if they do not feel the arrangement will be suitable after all. 

Even if the person does decide to go ahead with a longer-term arrangement, there will still be a trial period when the person can change their mind.  The length of the trial period will be agreed at the start of the arrangement and written in the Arrangement Agreement.

Deciding that one Shared Lives arrangement is not right for the person does not mean that the person cannot try another one.  The Shared Lives worker will discuss this and will arrange introductory visits to another Shared Lives Host(s) if appropriate.

Introductory visits play a big part in making sure an arrangement is right for everyone involved.  We therefore try to avoid making Shared Lives arrangements in emergencies when this kind of opportunity may not be possible. However, we have a separate procedure which we follow if an emergency arises and there really is no time for the person to get to know the Shared Lives Host(s) before the person goes there.  The person’s Shared Lives worker will explain more about this if it affects the person.

The assessment, approval of Shared Lives Hosts is critical process that ensures the success, safety and effectiveness of Shared Lives for people who use or live in Shared Lives Arrangements.  The Shared Lives Panel which provides independent scrutiny and quality assurance is integral to this process.


Shared Lives Panels play a key role in the approval of Shared Lives Hosts.  They also have an important role in quality assuring the assessment process through:

  • monitoring and reviewing the quality of work of Shared Lives workers during the assessment process
  • providing feedback on the quality of Shared Lives Host applications
  • identifying any problems with the Shared Lives Host assessment process
  • ensuring that there is consistency of approach across the Shared Lives scheme, that the approach is fair to all applicants, and it has been completed in a thorough and rigorous way.

Each Shared Lives scheme should have a Panel. The Panel is a group of interested and experienced people, appointed by the scheme, but operating independently of that scheme. This panel considers assessments of new Shared Lives Host applicants and makes recommendations about their approval. The Panel also makes recommendations about the ongoing approval of existing Shared Lives Hosts. As the scheme manager is registered with the relevant care regulator the overall decision for the approval of a new Shared Lives Host, or the ongoing approval of an existing Shared Lives Host is made by the scheme manager.

Regulators in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland play a role in ensuring that Shared Lives schemes are effective and work to an agreed standard, thereby ensuring the quality and safety of individual Shared Lives arrangements.  Each of the four regulators works to slightly different regulations and standards but have broadly the same approach to the existence of Panels.

The Care Quality Commission is the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England.

They make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

CQC monitors, inspects and regulates services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety, and we publish what we find, including performance ratings to help people choose care. They set out what good and outstanding care looks like, and we make sure services meet fundamental standards below which care must never fall.

To learn more about the Care Quality Commission, visit www.cqc.org.uk

Last updated: 01/02/2022