Innovative Age NI Shared Lives Service Making A Positive Impact For Older People

An innovative service providing support for people aged 65 and over who may be lonely and isolated has been making a positive impact since it was launched over 6 months ago.  The first Shared Lives match was made in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust area in December, between Michael Lawson and Mark Logan and since then, both have been enjoying spending time with each other and taking part in a variety of activities together.

Shared Lives offers older people a safe, welcoming, family environment supported by carefully chosen and assessed Shared Lives carers.  Delivered by Age NI and funded by the Department of Health, the NI regional service is based on the shared interests of the Shared Lives carer and older person.

Shared Lives service user Michael spoke about the positive impact the service has had on his life.  Michael said:

“Before Shared Lives I tended to be very much trapped in the house. I was really rather isolated. If you can get two people who share interests and one is perhaps considerably younger than the other, I think it’s an excellent idea – giving people the movement and flexibility to do things that otherwise they might not be able to do.”

Shared Lives carer, Mark adds:
“It makes me happy to share my life with Michael and it’s wonderful to see how our new friendship is making a positive impact on his life, which is really important.  If anyone is thinking about becoming a Shared Lives Carer I can tell you that it is a really great idea.  The ongoing support I receive from Age NI is invaluable to me on this new and rewarding journey.”

The Shared Lives service offers an opportunity to provide early intervention and support to older people, to help them they stay as independent for as long as possible and remain connected to their communities.  It is based around Shared Lives carers sharing their home, family and community life with an older person who needs support.

Alison Milford, Age NI’s Head of Shared Lives commented:

“Age NI is passionate about improving the lives of older people and we know that the ability to remain as independent as possible, to stay well, and to keep connected to others, really matters to older people.   As a model of care, Shared Lives offers older people more choice in how support is provided.  It provides real opportunities to develop friendships and community connections, reducing loneliness and isolation.

“We are delighted that the first Shared Lives match between Michael and Mark has been such a success and made such a positive impact to both their lives. You can see that a real friendship has grown between them and that’s what makes Shared Lives so special as a service.”

“We will continue to work in partnership with the Department of Health and local Health and Social Care Trusts to grow this service and make a positive difference to the lives of older people.”

 Brendan Whittle, Director of Community Care, Department of Health adds:

“It is wonderful to hear about the positive impact Shared Lives is making on the lives of our older people. With this investment, Age NI are helping us improve the quality and access of care for older people, while also providing more support for unpaid carers through incredible initiatives like this. I really want more people to know about Shared Lives and the incredible difference it can make to lives.”

 Anyone over the age of 21 years can become a Shared Lives carer.  All you need is the right attitude and a willingness to share your life with another person.

If you would like to find out more information about Shared Lives NI for Older People please email: [email protected] or Telephone 028 9024 5729 or visit

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