Quality of life
A person’s quality of life is influenced by a lot of different things. Once our most basic needs are met such as having enough to eat and drink, then we start to think of the more complicated aspects involved in creating a happy meaningful life.
Some of the things that help us to have a good quality of life are:
- Having meaningful relationships – friends, family and partners
- Having a safe and stable home
- Having meaningful purpose to your days
- Being healthy
- Having financial security
- Being respected and feeling heard
- Having choices
For someone with a learning disability, these things are just as important, if not more so. In the past a lot of choices were taken away from people with learning disabilities and although this is being addressed with personalisation and person centred planning, there is still a long way to go to ensure people are having the choice and control to have a good quality of life.
Sometimes it can feel daunting as the parent or carer of someone with a learning disability to be responsible for someone else’s quality of life if the person is unable to make decisions and plans for themselves. Sometimes families find it hard to know if the support that is in place for their family member is offering good support and providing the person with a good life.
Often people do not know what options are available to them and how to begin thinking about other possibilities and choices. Below are some of the ways families and carers can help make sure people are supported to have good quality of life.
If someone with a learning disability lives in a supported living or residential home then it can be hard for families and carers to be sure they are getting good support and having a good quality of life.
Quality Checking is a way to ensure that support providers are keeping the persons best interests and health into account. A team of people will visit the person and assess all areas of their life to make sure they are happy and being well supported. There are various local schemes around the country, which you can find online.
Having a meaningful purpose to our day is important to most of us and this is no different for people with learning disabilities. Research shows that 65% of people with a learning disability would like a job, however only 7% are in employment. Whether the person would like a paid job or to do some volunteer work, it is important to make sure that options are explored. Aside from the monetary gain of working, the benefits of working are many.
Through work and voluntary work we learn new skills, make new friends, have a sense of purpose and grow in confidence. These things are essential to our quality of life. To find out more about employment see our A-Z entry.
Some people with learning disabilities also have other more complex health conditions which can affect their quality of life. For those people who need specialist equipment to support their health or mobility, just coping with day to day life can take over for many families.
It can be difficult to access the support that people require and many families report confusion and challenges in navigating services to get the equipment, funds and support that they need. People with complex health conditions are often unable to easily communicate their needs. It is therefore vitally important that planning for their future is addressed.
There are many ways families can plan for the future and ensure the person is being given all the options and possibilities available to them. Having good plans in place for emergencies, making sure that people have up to date health passports and communication passports can help take some of the anxiety out of day to day life.
Creating a good circle of people in the persons life can help families feel they are not alone in caring for their family member and can help problem solve issues and think creatively about the person’s life and what they can achieve (see below for more information on circles). Look at our A-Z on ‘health’ for more information on planning and where to get support.
Circles of support are where a group of people come together to support someone in their life and to ensure they are connected with their local community. Circles can be run in very different ways, such as coming together to help a person to find a job, or can be an on-going circle which just make sure things are going well in someone’s life.
Circles are a really useful way of ensuring that the person is getting to live a life they choose and helps bring people together to think about how that might look and how they can make it happen. For more information on circles of support please see our A-Z entry.