NHS England has announced a £1.75 million investment in a scheme to help more people get care in a home instead of in a hospital.
The cash will help clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) commission the Shared Lives scheme where people with learning difficulties, dementia or mental health problems live with or visit their carers for day support or overnight breaks.
The cash will be available to six to 10 areas where CCGs are keen to develop a scheme with match funding.
They have been invited to submit expression of interest.
Two regions with the most interest in the Shared Lives scheme will get extra support as “accelerator regions”.
NHS England said commissioners could use the funds to help people with learning difficulties move out of medical institutions and live in family homes, offer live-in mental health support, including acute support as an alternative to hospital and help patients recovering from strokes or other health crises.
Shared Lives can also help with day support for dementia patients and give their family carers the chance of a short break.
The scheme is already offered in some areas, including Swansea, Manchester and the London borough of Bromley.
Patients move into or visit their carer’s home while they are getting support.
Currently there are 13,000 people getting help through Shared Lives schemes in the UK.
NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens said: “Whether helping someone with a learning disability build a full life with a network of friends and family, or enabling an older person to recover from an operation in the peace and quiet of a familiar environment – people naturally value care and support in a loving family home.”
He said a “community and people-centred approach” like this needs to play a much larger role in the future.
According to 2013 figures the Shared Lives approach saves £26,000 a year per person with learning disabilities, compared with more traditional approaches such as residential care and £8,000 a year supporting a person with mental health needs.
Shared Lives Plus chief executive Alex Fox said there were “staggering outcomes from people visiting or living in their chosen Shared Lives arrangement, because Shared Lives carers have the time and space to get to know people really well, understanding not only what they need but also what they are capable of doing for themselves.”