I want to share my experiences when it comes to ‘Quality of life’; a phrase which is widely used in many areas of life. I have been reflecting from my own experiences and observations I witness. What does quality of life mean to the people we support? Is it just having all the things they like in abundance?
I have looked at myself and what quality of life means to me and compared it to the people we support and realised that in very simple terms we are all human, not that I didn’t realise that before, but because the titles, labels, stereotypes, prejudices etc which we innately use as humans, inadvertently ‘misshape our thoughts.’ Even when we are constantly reminded to treat others they way we would rather be treated, this sometimes becomes background noise that we have intelligently learned over time to block out.
So in day to day activities it does happen that we as staff due to our own bias we are thinking for the people we support on matters that they can actually decide for themselves or be supported to accomplish by themselves or with little support. I remember when I was young and was learning skills to see me through life, it was overwhelming and I didn’t like it; I would be lying if I said I woke up every school day and skipped joyfully to school, however, as time went by I became more empowered by what I was learning and even though it was difficult at times I pushed on, needing a little less pushing from my mother whom I considered quite pushy with school matters. I remember when I finally hacked how to tie my own shoes, it was a joyous moment, I knew how to do something and I liked it.
So why is it then when the MacIntyre Promises talk about helping people we support to learn new skills for example, we sometimes don’t take time to think about what we are doing when ‘we do things for’ instead of ‘doing something with the person’. Even when it is difficult we cannot easily give up as our parents and minders didn’t easily give up on us. I hear sometimes, ‘it’s their choice’, a phrase used by staff when they want to get out of supporting someone doing an activity which they would rather not do; this can be a dishonest abdication of a key part of our job to support people with Life Long Learning.
Quality of life is all encompassing, the more empowered an individual feels the better their quality of life; a good balance of ‘Important to and Important for’ is necessary to achieve this. Through Great Interactions, every day we support this to happen and we can make it better.
Food for thought I hope.
Front Line Manager, Oxfordshire