Developing and maintaining skills for everyday life starts with an assessment of independent living skills

Developing and maintaining skills for everyday life starts with an assessment of independent living skills. As a support worker first I have to determine the starting point and see what the client would like to achieve.
Personal care includes appearance, washing, dressing etc. Maintaining good personal care is an everyday task and it is very complex. I approach the problem from two sides. Discussing the necessary tasks and making sure that the client has everything they need, for example a toothbrush or several towels, for personal care is the first step. The next step is creating the need for good self care. When people isolate themselves, personal care expectations often disappear. We organise groups in the house, eat out, travel on public transport. Personal care has a purpose.
Food and drink preparation when clients move in is very often a dormant skill. We have cooking sessions, when we highlight healthy eating, cost effective shopping, hygiene and the need for regular and planned meals. We support clients to do budgeting, 1.1 shopping and during flat health and safety checks we discuss how to store food.
Using new appliances when moving in can be difficult. To make sure that clients can do their laundry, one of the goals of a support plan can be to use the washing machine. Regular prompts on the timetable help to remind clients to do their washing.
Finances is an area where many service users struggle. Firstly we make sure that the client is getting all the benefits they are entitled to. If they are not, we support them to apply for them. Sometimes the clients do not have any ID. Then support starts with obtaining an ID so that the client can freely access their bank account. Managing finances can sometimes be difficult due to social anxiety or paranoia. Assessing the problem can help with the solution. A client may need regular staff support to go to the one bank branch they are familiar with. Staff can help clients understand their bank statement. When the technicalities are sorted, staff can offer budgeting sessions. If finances are a problem because of an addiction, for example gambling, the support is built around managing the source of the problem.
Household cleaning and maintenance is first of all helping the client identify the tasks. When the task is identified, we make sure the service user are aware of the tools needed to clean and we agree on prompts. Structuring activities could be worked on once the client identified the tasks and have the necessary tools.
Targeted shopping for necessities is an area that needs improvement usually. We do meal plans with clients so they decide what they need to buy. Clients are supported to learn to do on-line shopping. We go shopping with clients, helping to identify products that they can use and healthy food options. Budgeting plan and weekly sessions to discuss any problems can be in place.
When moving to a new area it can be difficult for everyone to find their way around. Staff can help learning the routes on the local buses. Travelling on the bus with staff help with social skills as well. People who have social phobia may need regular support to help them talk to bus drivers and have the skills of travelling by pubic transport. Road safety sessions start with theoretical approach, identifying danger and assessing basic knowledge. Practical practice is using familiar routes, learning new ones with staff support, using online or paper maps and finding places of interest with staff support and independently. Approach has to be built up from the already existing skills and working up towards full independence.
Communication is also an independent living skill. Socially accepted ways of 1.1 communication, taking part in a conversation in a group setting and and responding to post are separate skills that can be developed. Sessions on communication can help mainly for people with ASD diagnosis. We practise situations, real or theoretical, do workbook exercises and use reflection. Advantages of being polite and patient can be practised in group setting. One of our sessions to practise turn taking and maintained attention is our music session. People who take part pick a piece of music and the group listens to it. The group negotiates which song is played next. The development of social skills is apparent, at the beginning of the session a few individuals talked while someone else’s music was on and walked out after they song was played. A few times after the session was repeated, these behaviours disappeared and were replaced by respectful conversation after the song.
There are many sub skills needed for living independently. Key to learning and maintaining is motivation. Staff are there to motivate and create motivating situations.


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