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Home Sharing and Respite

Disability Services all over the country are supporting a contemporary individualised model of support in the community through Home Sharing. Home Sharing is an alternative option to the traditional residential and respite care models of support offered to people with intellectual disability and their families. Ability West and the Brothers of Charity Services Ireland – West Region jointly operate the service which initially started in 1985 known as Home Share Galway.

We are in the process of developing a home sharing scheme in Roscommon.

Home Sharing is a family-based break for people with an intellectual disability. Families in the community referred to as Home Sharing families provide short breaks or full-time support to a person with an intellectual disability in their own home under three categories:

  • Short Breaks Families
  • Contract Families
  • Shared Living Families
Short Breaks Families

Home Sharing ‘Short Breaks’ involves a Home Sharing family in the community offering a placement, care, and support to a person with an intellectual disability in their home. These short breaks are flexible and arrangements are based on the Home Sharing family’s availability in terms of work and other commitments.

Contract Families

The physical, behavioural or healthcare needs of some children and adults with an intellectual disability can be complex. In recognition of this, service providers recruit ‘Contract Families’ (specialist carers) from their existing pool of approved Home Sharing families to provide short break support. Contract families are expected to be available to provide short breaks for ten (10), sixteen (16) or twenty (20) nights per month.

Shared Living Families

A Home Sharing ‘Shared Living’ family is a family that provides full-time care to a person with an intellectual disability, similar to a fostering placement.  The Shared Living family make their home available to a person with an intellectual disability, to share their home on a full-time basis as a member of their family

People become a Home Sharing family for a variety of reasons. Each arrangement is as unique as the people involved. Some people provide Home Sharing because they want to get to know more people in the community while others provide Home Sharing because they are happy to open their homes and their lives to people and families that need support. Some people become involved in Home Sharing so that their own families can learn to understand and embrace diversity. Whatever the reason, the most important thing is that Home Sharing families are supporting a child or an adult to have meaningful breaks. Home Sharing is one way of developing individualised services for people with an intellectual disability as opposed to group models of service provision.

Hear what our host families have to say about the mutual benefits of respite and home sharing!

Home Share Galway doesn’t just look for a “traditional” family unit to become a Home Sharing family. They look for anyone who feels that they have the desire and time to offer support to a child or an adult with an intellectual disability. Single people, cohabiting couples, married people, and retired people can make excellent Home Sharing families. Formal qualifications are not required but qualities such as warmth, patience, flexibility and common sense are necessary.

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If you are interested in becoming a Home Sharing family please contact our office on 091-721560. You can also email where a member of our Home Sharing team will respond to your query.

Home Sharing application forms are screened and applicants go through a process similar to that of fostering which involves completing a training course and a Social Work Home Sharing assessment. Each member of the potential Home Sharing family is included in the process.

We seek Garda clearance for each individual over 18 in the household, along with Tusla checks, medicals, and three named referees for the potential main carers. An additional employer reference may be sought if the applicant(s) has previously worked or is currently working with a disability service provider. The assessment and completed vetting is presented to the Home Sharing Panel for approval.

The overall assessment and vetting process for Home Sharing families is very thorough. If any individual or couple has doubts about their suitability for Home Sharing, these will surface during the assessment process. This is normal as some people may realise that it is not for them. However, the majority of people go on to be successful Home Sharing families.

If you are interested in becoming a Home Sharing family please contact us.


Telephone: (091) 721 560

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