Photo of Jen holding a chicken


Jen is a 53-year-old lady with learning disabilities and was living with both of her elderly parents. Her parents wanted to see that Jen would have a place to live and be happy should anything happen to them and be unable to provide her with the care that she needed. Rachel, a community Carer at the time, had a spacious home and joined the scheme 17 years ago. Jen was introduced to Rachel, and they got on very well. Jen moved to Rachel’s home where she has now lived for 17 years.

Matching Process

Jen and Rachel met through a carefully orchestrated introduction facilitated by the Shared Lives coordinators. They immediately found common ground in their love for gardening and their love for animals and nature. Jen had previously lived on a farm and enjoyed caring for the animals and helping her mum run a bed and breakfast. This initial connection played a crucial role in their successful match. Rachel has also found this role very rewarding and working from home has allowed her to be at home and be available for everyone. Rachel has also been studying at university whilst in this role completing a psychology degree and currently working towards a master’s degree in international security and risk management.

Transition and Adjustment

The transition for Jen from her parent’s home was gradual and well-supported. Rachel made sure to create a warm, welcoming environment and ensured that Jen felt comfortable and safe. Over time, they established routines that catered to Jens’s needs and interests, including gardening, family holidays, community classes, outings and day centres. Rachel also got some hens for Jen to care for at their home.

Shared Activities

One of the most transformative aspects of Rachel and Jens’s relationship was their shared love of animals and gardening. Jens loves the garden and Rachel has given her a patch in the garden to plant and tend to her own flowers and vegetables. This activity not only enriched Jens’s life but also fostered a deep sense of accomplishment and pride for her. Rachel also has 2 children and Jen has loved being involved with the children and being part of a family. She would watch the TV with the children when they were little and play with them and their toys and the children would come home from school and go straight to see her. This has increased Jen’s confidence and when Jen came to live with Rachel, she was shy and reserved but now is much more confident. Jen has also lost a lot of weight because she is more active, and this has also benefitted her diabetes. Jen does not rely on insulin now and manages her diabetes with medication and careful monitoring by Rachel and healthcare professionals.

Community Integration

Jen enjoys going out to various day activities such as arts and craft classes, days out and enjoys yoga, relaxation and dance classes. She has made many new friends by joining in these activities and this has increased her wellbeing and confidence.

Results and Impact

Jens’s move to live with Rachel and the children within the Shared Lives program has had a profound impact on her life. She experienced increased self-esteem and independence, which was reflected in her ability to manage daily tasks with greater confidence. Rachel’s patience and nurturing support helped Jen build valuable life skills and become an active member of her community.


Jen, Rachel and the rest of the families Shared Lives experience exemplifies the transformative power of the program. Through a well-matched and supportive partnership, Jen gained a new lease on life, while Rachel found fulfillment in providing care and companionship. Their shared passion for animals and gardening connected them and set out the grounding for a happy and meaningful bond that has enriched all of their lives.

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Vale Of Glamorgan Council,
Hen Goleg, College Fields Close,
Barry, CF62 8LF

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