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Could you be a Shared Carer?

Could you help make a difference to disabled children and their families in Poole? Borough of Poole’s Shared Care scheme is actively seeking more local people to get involved with disabled children in their community by providing regular respite care.


Under the Shared Care scheme, families, couples or individuals invite a disabled child into their home and care for them for regular short periods.

Carer Tracey Bulgarelli and Brecon

For parents of a child who is disabled short breaks can be essential, allowing them to catch up with simple tasks like going shopping, spending time with other children, or having an evening out together, knowing they can relax and that their child is with someone they know and trust.

Shared Carers give children with disabilities the chance to make new friends, develop more independence and have new experiences away from home in a secure and familiar environment. There are currently 22 Shared Carers in Poole, but many more families of disabled children are looking for a break. Shared Carers with a spare bedroom are particularly needed, who can offer monthly overnight care at weekends and during school holidays. People who are able to offer regular day care at least twice a month are also needed.

Cllr Janet Walton, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Families and Young People, Borough of Poole, said: “As a carer you are helping another family in need, but your own family can also learn about understanding special needs and make rewarding new friendships. It can be an amazing experience, and one which many of our families really need.”

People from all ages and backgrounds are needed - they can be older or young, in a partnership or single, retired, unemployed or working. They may or may not have children of their own, or their children may have left home. Experience of children with disabilities can help, but it is not essential as full training and ongoing support is provided. Carers are also paid a specialist fostering allowance, but there is no charge to the child’s family. 

Tracey Bulgarelli has been a Shared Carer since September 2009, and provides care for Brecon, a lively 7-year-old boy with a rare genetic disorder similar to autism, as well as severe epilepsy.  Brecon needs to be monitored 24/7 as he has a very high pain threshold, no fear and no sense of danger. Tracey and Brecon have developed a close relationship where Brecon has new experiences in a safe environment, and Brecon's family are able to take the time they need together. 

Tracey said: "Working as a Shared Carer is rewarding and fulfilling, knowing that you are able to give support and respite to a family and enable them to spend some quality time together safe in the knowledge their child will be having fun and being cared for.”

Brecon’s mother, Lucy Parr, added: “Brecon is a beautiful boy who unfortunately has many challenges in life. Because of this he needs one-to-one care, and obviously for a family with four children and two full-time occupations this is a very hard balance to strike in ensuring everyone gets the support they need to thrive. When Tracey has Brecon, it gives our whole family some breathing space and time to function as a typical family would. 

“I also know that Brecon is getting the very best care and his various complex needs are being met. He has developed an amazing relationship with Tracey and it’s incredible to see him so happy after spending time with her. From the point of view of families receiving this service, I cannot over-emphasise how vital it is in maintaining ongoing sanity and a slight sense of balance in the otherwise chaotic life that comes with having a disabled child. If you feel you could offer this to a family and their child, please get in touch with the team.”

Amanda Harriskine, Senior Practitioner for Shared Care, Borough of Poole, said: “As we can see from the example of Tracey and Brecon, becoming a Shared Carer can be an immensely rewarding opportunity. We’d encourage anyone interested to get in touch, and see how they can make a real difference to another family in a way that fits in with their own lifestyle.”

For more information about becoming a Shared Carer in Poole please contact the Poole Shared Care Social Workers on 01202 714640 or visit the Shared Care website pages

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