Making New Year’s Resolutions Real

Kate Sibthorp, National Co-production Advisory Group
Added on
Making it Real

As mum to a young woman with learning disabilities and autism, Kate’s been thinking about how Making it Real could inspire personal assistants and support staff to help people like her daughter achieve their New Year’s resolutions.

A quick search on the internet reveals the most popular New Year resolutions – popular as in the most common, not the most liked! I know, because I’ve tried most of them and still live in hope! But, as 2018 slips into 2019, it’s a natural time to have conversations with the people we support to discover the resolutions that matter to them.

So why not use the Making it Real I statements to start talking about possibilities? Below are the most common New Year’s resolutions, matched to some of the I statements, with a few added extras to help us all get talking, thinking and planning…

Most popular health resolutions:

  • Eat more healthily
  • Lose weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Do more exercise

The I statements that could help your conversations:

I am supported to manage my health in a way that makes sense to me.

I feel safe and am supported to understand and manage any risks.

I can get information and advice about my health and how I can be as well as possible – physically, mentally and emotionally.

And a few thoughts…

Many people with learning disabilities and/or autism live in supported living settings where they share their housing and support. Losing weight is tough, but it can be even harder if you live in a house with other people who don’t need or want to lose weight, or who like calorific food. And the healthiest food isn’t always the cheapest, and everyone’s on a tight budget. How can we get everyone to pull together to support each other? Would it be a good idea to join a slimming club? Who does the cooking and do they know how to ‘cook healthy’?

Giving up smoking is another toughie. What motivates individual people? Do people understand the risks of not stopping? How much money could people save and what would they spend it on? Is there anyone in the local community who helps with this?

Exercise can be something simple, like going for a walk every day; it’s easy enough to track how many steps we take. Some people like to do things as part of a group while others prefer to be more solitary. Team sports are great, but not for everyone. Walking alone might be too lonely, so why not set up a regular walking group?

Most popular social resolutions:

  • Spend more time with friends/family
  • Make new friends

The I statements that could help your conversations:

I have people in my life who care about me – family, friends and people in my community.

I can keep in touch and meet up with people who are important to me, including family, friends and people who share my interests, identity and culture.

(And if you search the We statements, you’ll find one that specifically talks about making new friends! Just look under Keeping family, friends and connections: active and supportive communities)

And a few thoughts…

Friendships matter to most of us and are key to our emotional and mental wellbeing. Yet many people with learning disabilities and/or autism who live in supported living settings can’t invite a friend round for a cup of tea or have a relative stay for a meal; indeed, some mums tell me they have to let staff know before they visit their son or daughter.

How can we open up and let new people into the lives of people with learning disabilities? And how can people with learning disabilities just get more connected in their local communities, like everyone else? How welcoming are we? My daughter doesn’t use speech to communicate and doesn’t make friends in the conventional sense, but she loves to be out and about among other people – just there, part of what’s going on. 

And the more personal, self-improvement resolutions:

  • Learn a new skill or hobby
  • Get a new job
  • Get organised
  • Focus on my appearance

The I statements that could help your conversations:

I know about the activities, social groups, leisure and learning opportunities in my community, as well as health and care services.

I have opportunities to learn, volunteer and work and can do things that match my interests, skills and abilities.

I have a co-produced personal plan that sets out how I can be as active and involved in my community as possible.

I can get information and advice that helps me think about and plan my life.

I am treated with respect and dignity.

And a few thoughts…

Maybe we could get a bit more inclusive as a society in 2019… I hear people saying that the general public needs to be ‘made aware’ of learning disability and autism. The theory seems to be that once everyone is ‘aware,’ it will be OK for disabled people to go and join in. Well, that’s never going to work! Everyone’s different - how can everyone learn ‘awareness’ of everyone else? There’s only one way to get an inclusive society and that’s for everyone to go everywhere and for everywhere to be welcoming. The only way to make that happen is for people with learning disabilities to just get out and go everywhere. So how can those of us who support people with learning disabilities and autism make that happen? Go sign up for the local art class. Go join the aqua aerobics at the pool. Turn up at the knit and natter. I dare you!

And finally…

We’re more likely to keep our New Year’s resolutions if we plan to do them and do them with other people:

I can get information and advice that helps me think about and plan my life.

I am supported by people who listen carefully so they know what matters to me and how to support me to live the life I want.

And the good news is?

None of the things above need to cost more money! Making it Real is about living better lives. It all starts with a conversation and the New Year is just the time to start!




Posted on by Sally Percival

Excellent blog Kate. It is good news and making it real is good news as it can as you rightly say be used to improve just about anything!

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