Sharing is caring – Shared Lives Hertfordshire enriching family life

Published: 19 Dec 2018

This New Year will be particularly meaningful for carer Tracey and 19-year-old Ethan, as they celebrate 2019 together in their new home.

The two came together through Hertfordshire County Council’s Shared Lives scheme and are enriching one another’s lives.

After working in care for over 20 years, Tracey McGregor was keen to continue supporting adults with learning difficulties, this time caring for vulnerable adults in her own home, providing one-to-one support, as part of her own family.

She approached the fostering and adoption team at Hertfordshire County Council who signposted Tracey from Shefford to the Shared Lives Hertfordshire team.

Tracey said: “I wanted to live with someone I could bring out the best in so when I heard about Shared Lives, I immediately applied.”

After going through the application and matching process with the Shared Lives team, Tracey was partnered with Ethan, who has a learning disability, meaning he requires more time to process and make everyday decisions.

How Shared Lives is helping Ethan

With Tracey’s patient support and encouragement, Ethan's confidence is building. He now attends college, and his local youth club, where he meets new friends and tries different activities. He also takes part in everyday tasks such as shopping ironing and cleaning, and has developed a passion for cooking.

Tracey said: “He’s not even aware of how much he’s achieving. Ethan has come such a long way in a short space of time.

“It’s a full on role, you never stop, but the reward of seeing someone flourish is massive. The Shared Lives programme has made a huge difference to Ethan and to me; this is Ethan’s first Christmas with us as a family in our new house and we are so looking forward to sharing it with him. For me, this is what Christmas is all about.”

In the future, Tracey would love for Ethan to continue taking steps towards living semi-independently near to his mum. This seemed like an ambitious target before Ethan arrived, but with the support of Tracey and her family, this seems possible.

How Shared Lives has supported Tracey

Shared Lives has a dedicated support network for carers giving them ongoing support, planned breaks and advice.

"The training is extensive and flexible, and the ongoing support is fantastic. The team are always there to help when I need them,” Tracey explained.

She has been quick to promote Shared Lives Hertfordshire to her friends and former colleagues. Tracey likes Shared Lives so much she is waiting for a second service user to join Ethan. That’s part of the reason she moved to a bigger house. She’s also supported by her daughter who assists through Shared Lives.

Tracey says, "You need to be a tolerant and patient person to succeed as a Shared Lives Carer, but the emotional rewards are huge and I’ve promoted Shared Lives wherever I go.”

Ethan is also quick to add his thoughts on Shared Lives, and living with Tracey and all the family: “Shared Lives is good. It’s really good. I’m so looking forward to Christmas this year!”

You can watch their video, by clicking on the following link:

Who can benefit from Shared Lives?


If you struggle at home, but residential care or supported living isn't for you, sharing a home might be the answer. Shared Lives helps you join a family home with trained carers supporting you to do the things you like. It is often for adults with physical or learning disabilities, but could also be a good option for young people transitioning from foster care, older people and people with mental health issues.