Life Tasting is a process of discovery, goal setting and achievements broken down into discussions and actions.
People with disabilities are often underestimated, isolated, or interacted with as the object rather than the subject. Support plans can easily shift to care plans with the outcomes only considering safety and security over meaning and a person centered perspective on quality of life. Esteemed author and consultant in human and community services Dr. Michael Kendrick coined the terminologies “Life Tasting”, and “The Good Life” together in order to break down the process of helping work through perceived limitations of people with disabilities and the and through life tasting - helping them to lead their good life.
Community Living Centres holds the philosophy of Life Tasting at its core. We work together with our residents through a life tasting lens to first define and then make plans to achieve their good life.
As our residents haven’t often thought about their personal definition of “the good life” prior to coming to Community Living Centres, this can be a completely new discussion. We know there is no scientific evidence or reason that people with disabilities can’t have good lives, and this is why life tasting is so integral to our organization and how we interact with our communities. The best part of life tasting is that no one other than the individual gets to say when the good life has been achieved, and so it is both a horizon-expanding and self-affirming process.
Life tasting opens new doors for confidence and new successes.
Many of our residents have missed major milestones during their lives as they receive treatment for illness or disability in the medical or educational systems. This comes in the form of missing time for skills development, community exposure, relationships, jobs and socialization. Life tasting involved a lot of planning, and those plans begin with assessing goals, skills, knowledge, and comfort levels, then reintroducing the opportunities for trying to achieve the goal either through its constituent parts or all at once, depending on the goal itself. This process and the many steps of planning and trying really helps to bolster the individual's self perception and creates confidence.
We start with things they’ve heard about - sometimes it’s a hobby or sport they may have seen, or have expressed curiosity about. We have helped unite residents with experiences to learn everything from sea-glass art to new sports and even horseback riding and getting a license to drive. It all starts with open conversations, and then through assessment of the individual’s comfort levels, skills and knowledge we can start to introduce the experiences.
In our Small Option Homes, because of our strong commitment for small staff teams and continuity of care, there are often close relationships that allow for exploratory discussions between residents and staff. Staff will often share their interests with residents as a means to communicate another potential outlet for life tasting, while residents feel safe to ask questions and wonder aloud about activities they have seen and not tried. This helps us expose our residents to new and different experiences they might not have thought of or felt ready to consider before.
It is not uncommon for activities of life tasting to have inherent challenges in them, and these can be met with trepidation or even outright fear due to past trauma or self-doubt. Through careful work, we combine the experience with motivation and the occasional spontaneous opportunity in order to help residents through these challenges. These successes and failures that happen during life tasting experiences help individuals grow and open themselves to further opportunities.
These steps help our residents work towards and often achieve their good life. Life tasting opens new doors for confidence and new successes. It’s always our goal to help our residents live their best lives. If you have any questions about life tasting, please feel free drop us a note.