Independent Living Skills…redefined!

As an introduction to the new TIFS Blog, I thought what better way than to look deeper into what our purpose is; the evaluation of independent living skills.  It sounds good…sounds like an important statement, yet what does it mean?  Well, the quick version is that we use observation, coaching, and discussion with the intention of seeing what life skills and abilities a participant has or can learn, either on their own or with supports helping them.

Still wondering what does it mean?

It is possible to get hung up on the word ‘independent’ and think that is where the focus should be.  But consider; do any of us go through life completely free of supports?  And what is your view of the meaning of the word ‘independent’…I have learned that the feelings around this word can affect the definition.

Now consider ‘living’.  The basics of living… food, shelter, clothing… what does it take each individual to meet those needs?  And more important, how and why do they do it?

To clarify, I am talking about living as the active involvement people have with eating, playing, working, relaxing, etc.  When people are involved with their lives, with the choices and decisions which help shape how their lives are lived, with the reasons they do things, then they tend to be much happier, more content, and feel worthy.

Active involvement requires being motivated…a person may have the ‘skills’ to clean their own home, but if they are uninterested then the possibility of it getting done is probably very low.  Why do we clean?  Some people do it because they like it (unbelievable I know!), some do it because they know it just has to be done otherwise the home will be dirty and feel unpleasant to live in, and some people may do it because they were told to and its part of their routine and they are responsible for it…whatever the reason it gets done, those people have an ability to identify a purpose for doing it; they are motivated so it gets done.

By asking the independent questions regarding the tasks in life (cooking, cleaning, going to work, meeting with friends, etc.), such as in what way can an individual maintain active involvement on their own…how much can they do on their own…and are they willing…we are able to determine when, where, and for how long supports are needed.

Finding answers require recognition of an individual’s skills, the things they already know how to do, and their potential…and ability…to learn more.  Therefore, our purpose…the evaluation of independent living skills… is to recognise not only what a participant is capable of in order to live, but what are they willing to do to make living successful for them.

~Tami Schaafsma

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