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Shared care is a term used in health care and social care in Great Britain. It describes the establishment of partnerships between professionals and laymen where they share a common goal. For example: the improvement in the health of a patient where the patient needs to take a major degree of responsibility for his or her care, or an arrangement where the life of a disadvantaged person is improved by the joint efforts of a social service and an outside lay provider. To be true "shared" care, the partnership is a genuinely equal one with neither partner being subservient nor superior.
Shared care is used in a social context to describe the activities of organisations that provide short breaks for disadvantaged children or those that help enlist families for short term fostering. In each case there is significant input from the non-professional supervised by the professional. The practice is widespread with examples throughout the country of this usage, with clients from all age groups and types of disabilities or social problems.
The Child Support Agency uses the term for a very specific purpose: "it refers to each of the separated parents having the children with them part of the time, so that direct expenditure is shared too."
In a more mainstream health orientated context the term can be used for the schemes for such medical problems as substance abuse and diabetes, and in complementary medicine for such therapies as hypnosis or Alexander Technique where the therapist is an enabler rather than a paternalistic prescriber. Indeed Alexander Technique practitioners call themselves "teachers".
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