Take Charge of Your Health

Staying healthy is an important part of having a good life.  There are times we have to see medical professionals (like Doctors, Naturopaths etc.) to make sure we stay healthy or to help us get better when we are sick.  It can be difficult to remember everything we want to tell the doctor when we are at the appointment.  It is helpful to write out how we are doing before we go so we can give it to the doctor.  You can ask someone to help you write it down or do it yourself. A tool to use is 5.2-My-Healthcare-Visit that Surrey Place has developed.  When you start to feel sick, write on paper all the different things that you are feeling.  It will help the doctor to figure out what is happening to you and get you the best care.

Take charge of the doctor’s appointment.  This is about you.  If you do not understand something ask your doctor to explain.  If you find it helpful to have a support with you, ask someone you trust to come with you.  They can write down the information you receive at the appointment so you can have it later to remember.  You can also ask your doctor to write it down for you.

Medications and taking them correctly are another important part of living independently. Here is a link to a video brochure with information about taking medications, What I need to know about taking medication.   Your doctor or pharmacist can also answer your questions. It’s always okay to ask questions and make sure you understand.  It’s all about you!


Make a Cheese Sandwich

Make a Cheese Sandwich is a step by step visual recipe to use when making a cheese sandwich.  This is a resource from www.surreyplace.ca .  They have lots of great resources on their website to access.  The best way to learn how to make a meal is to practice it over and over.  When you have a recipe it can help you remember what steps to follow.  You can do this! Post a picture in the comments once you have completed it so we can all cheer your success. Happy eating.

Working on Independence at Home

We have found that there are apps to use on your cell phone or tablet that can be helpful for organizing all the independent living tasks that need to be completed.  In the TIFS program we come across many of them through word of mouth or stumbling on something we find useful.  Today I opened an email!

Let me tell you about a website that I was given to review.


This website created by the University of Quebec Trois Rivieres has taken helpful independent living apps and organized them.  They are found under 12 category headings that include topics such as budget, housekeeping, hygiene, nutrition, among others. When you click on Technologies Directory you are taken to the categories.  I downloaded a few of the apps to try and I was impressed with them.  They have far more than what I explored but here is info about just a couple.  If you have the time the website is worth visiting.

Youmiam is an app that offers simple recipes based on what foods you like and your level of expertise in cooking.  I like that the ingredients are listed with a picture of the item beside it.  The recipes I looked at had just a few ingredients and easy to follow instructions.

Shopping List 2017 has a free setting that does not come with a lot of grocery items but if you pay for the app they offer more items.  The grocery items have the name of the food and a picture symbol beside it.  You click on the ones you need to create your grocery list.  When you are grocery shopping you click on the items on your shopping list and they are moved to purchased so you can see what you have left to pick up.  Super easy to use and great to help you remember everything you need.

We are always seeking out new tools to help people develop and maintain their independence.  If you have any tools you have found that are helpful list them in the comments.  It’s a great way for everyone to learn from each other.

Watch out for your roadblocks

A common type of statement…”we tried that two or three years ago and it wasn’t successful, he/she couldn’t learn it, It was too hard, or it didn’t work out”, and said in reference to a suggested or proposed idea aimed at supporting, assisting, encouraging, or expanding an individual’s ability or skills, and made not only by parents and paid staff, but also the actual individual themselves. Continue reading

Talking about budgets…it’s not a game until you make it one.

The topic of how to budget, or even what is budgeting, is a difficult and frustrating concept if no practical experience is occurring. To make this topic more tangible, and interactive, I began treating it like a game and created a format to be played over a simulated two month period.

Called “Life Happens Budgeting Game”, the purpose is to introduce real life situations that can occur and may need to be thought out before a decision is made, such as a friend asking to borrow money. The purpose is to begin the discussion of what money a person has coming in and what it’s used for during the month.  Some expenses players can see coming, such as the frequent stops for grocery shopping or end of the month rent, while other expenses are unexpected and can be spur of the moment, as demonstrated through the ‘Life Happens’ cards. Continue reading

I think I need to go to camp!

I have to say, I love when I hear about programs that have been created to provide opportunities for the development and growth of an individual’s skills and abilities…combine that in a camp setting with a lake, trails, camp fire, water tubing, horseback riding, songs, and crafts…well, you see where I’m going with this right? Continue reading

Key to motivation…I don’t know, do you?

There is a flaw in what I do. I cannot provide motivation in a jar…if I could I swear I would sell it for a song! I mean, let’s be honest, nothing gets done without it, so its value really is unlimited. I wrote in my first blog that ‘active involvement (in anything…like life) requires being motivated’. So what does it mean when you are not?  I have heard the phrase, they are just lazy…yup, and maybe they are. But what if they’re not, then why do some individuals choose not to be more involved, more independent, in living their lives?

What if up until now your family member, your participant, your client, has not had to initiate motivation because they have been helped, rescued, or protected to the point they are comfortable and see no need to do more when there is always someone to do it for them??

In the comfort of home, surrounded by loving family, I have witnessed participants resist being encouraged to do more for themselves…and it’s not due to lack of ability. The reality is that many participants have abilities and skills they have learned with the supports around them…but in many cases there seems to be a point where the initiative and encouragement stalls.  Frequently it appears to be around those skills related to areas such as making independent choices and navigating life beyond the home.

Fear…families, and even support workers, fear that something will happen, that a mistake will be made, tends to be the most common reasons given. In answer to this I use again the words of Susan (a parent who participated in my second blog), where in regards to her son making choices, both right and wrong, she said “(its) a part of growing up and learning… I went through it, why would it be any different for him?” I am not being dismissive when I say; all parents and care givers have fear.  I am recognising that it’s there…the question is how do you combat it so that you are not holding back the potential of an individual?

Face it, if an individual (who has the ability) is motivated to take on the challenges of life…learn to use a city bus, get a job, go to college, learn to cook, be in charge of their own money…a lot of mistakes can be made…but so can a lot of living.

I don’t pretend to have the answers…only you, the family, the support worker, THE INDIVIDUAL whom this is all for, can find the answer to their own unique situation. But please, take a minute, read my second blog or one of many articles online regarding individuals who live with a developmental disability, and the things they can and have accomplished. Because people are amazing…if they are motivated!

Tami Schaafsma ~

Through The Looking Glass

When planning to blog about available resources, the title “through the looking glass” would not escape my head; I knew it was the title of an iconic book, but what did it really mean?  So I looked it up, and the first definition to pop up on Google states “Through the looking glass is a metaphorical expression. It means: on the strange side, in the twilight zone, in a strange parallel world.”

Now, I have to tell you, when I hear parents talk about trying to get all the information, they voice being confused, angry, and frustrated. They feel like they are missing some vital link that can make sense of what Passport funding is, what services are available, what to consider if hiring a PSW for a family member… and to me it feels like they are trying to see through this fabled mirror into a strange parallel world; no wonder they are exhausted! Continue reading