I attended an in service meeting for staff this afternoon with a consultant who led a discussion about quality of life issues for the clients.
Paraphrasing one of the introductory comments, "You can get an indication of the quality of a person's life by counting/measuring two things. One is the number of valued relationships in a person's life (beyond paid relationships) and the other is the number of valued "things" in a person's life."
It struck me that those two things are components of measuring anyone's quality of life. For valued relationships, he was not talking specifically about friendships or the understood meaning of significant others. What he was talking about were in general- the number of acquaintances that we interact with and would miss if they were not present. The more limited these are, the less interaction with the world at large we have. "Things" referred to anything valued- employment, hobbies, collections, sports, treasured items or activities. The fewer of these things in our lives, the lower the quality of our lives. For persons with disabilities, in particular developmental, cognitive or mental health disabilities, these things are too often missing entirely.
Another statement that seemed important was the notion that so many of the clients don't participate in their own life. I wondered how much that applied to people beyond those with disabilities? How many folks are not engaged, not present, not fully functioning and participating in their own lives- merely going through the motions that were dictated or set up long ago?