Looking at Life Quality:
A Visitor's Handbook

One component of the contract was to figure out a way to look at the 25 life quality outcomes. What we developed (with plenty of help from others and you know who you are) was Looking at Life Quality. This is what we had to say about the process around 10/1/95 (from a draft brochure developed with the Department of Developmental Services):

What is Looking at Life Quality? With the assistance of individuals with developmental disabilities, family members, regional centers, service providers, advocates, professionals and other interested persons, the Department of Developmental Services developed desired outcomes for individual life quality. The 25 outcomes represent things that people have identified as being important in their everyday lives. Based upon these individual outcomes, the Department also developed a way to help people look at their lives and to look for opportunities to improve their life quality. It's called Looking at Life Quality and it's intent is to:

  • help individuals with developmental disabilities identify and communicate information about life quality;

  • expand the number of people involved in their lives who know and care about them;

  • result in an improvement in life quality;

  • provide information for use in individual program planning;

  • and, gather information for use by regional centers in the enhancement of services and supports and the improvement of the system as a whole.

  • Who will be visited and how often? Individuals living in: (1) licensed community care facilities; (2) licensed health facilities; (3) licensed foster family homes; (4) homes certified by a foster family agency (FFA); (5) homes approved by a foster home agency (FHA); or, (6) supported living arrangements and receiving services will be visited. Beginning October 1, 1996, the life quality assessment will be completed no less than once every three years, or more often at the request of the individual, or where appropriate, the parent, guardian or conservator.

    Who are the visitors? Visitors will be volunteers and may include people with developmental disabilities, family members, regional center service coordinators, professionals, students and other interested persons. Before completing a visit, volunteers will receive training on the individual life quality outcomes, how to gather information from individuals about their life quality, and what to do with the information.

    How is information gathered and what happens with it? Information about life quality will be gathered through a casual, friendly conversation with the individual, with others who know and care about him or her, and through participation with or observation of the individual in their daily activities. The person completing the assessment will summarize the information from the conversation(s). The summary includes information about things that are going well in someone's life and things that need some follow-up. If things are observed or learned about that are dangerous to someone's health and safety, those things will be immediately reported by telephone to a designated contact person and agency for quick follow-up. This information is treated like all other confidential information. It will be shared with the individual and, as appropriate, parents, guardian or conservator, regional center and others as chosen by the individual. Typically, the visit will be scheduled prior to the individual's program planning meeting. That means that the information can be used in the review of the Individual Program Plan to support someone in achieving greater personal satisfaction with his or her life quality.

    If you would like a copy of the Visitor's Handbook (or a great version developed by individuals with disabilities titled Conversation with a Friend) or any of the other training materials that go with it, please write:

    Margaret Anderson or Anne Smith
    Department of Developmental Services
    1600 9th Street, Room 320
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    (916) 654-2217