The-Good-Life-001FI
Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

A good life for people with complex needs

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While overcoming difficulties was a part of their journey towards the good life, goals such as a home and healthy relationships were as important to these individuals as most people who don't face their challenges. The report is enlivened by a range of collages which were the key tool used by participants to express their aspirations.

Hopes and aspirations

The latest briefing from the Revolving Doors Agency is a fascinating report based on research which asked 16 individuals with complex needs about their hopes and aspirations and what a good life would look like for them.

The findings are of real value to commissioners and providers of services to this client group. The research found that participants’ goals and aspirations would be shared by many people. While overcoming difficulties was a part of their journey towards the good life, goals such as a home and healthy relationships were as important to these individuals as most people who don’t face their challenges.

The report is enlivened by a range of collages which were the key tool used by participants to express their aspirations.

collage 1

Common themes

The themes identified in three workshops and expressed in individual collages were refined and agreed with participants in a final feedback session. The themes are, unsurprisingly, interlinked and overlapping, but the researchers helpfully arranged them in three broad categories:

  • What represents progress in a good life?
    • Housing and a home
    • Making a positive contribution
    • Fulfilling employment
    • Enjoyment and fun
    • Life skills and financial security
    • Being healthy
    • Desistance and recovery journeys
  • What is the role of other people in a good life?
    • Children
    • Other interpersonal relationships
    • Being trusted
    • Being respected
    • Challenging prejudice and stigma
  • The interior and exterior life: crosscutting themes
    • Stability
    • New experiences and positive challenges
    • Freedom
    • Independence

collage 2

Shared aspirations

Of course, different participants’ conceptions of a good life were multifaceted and varied. Nevertheless, five key themes emerged:

  1. Stability. This was a common aspiration among participants: the importance of a ‘normal’ life with realistic goals, underpinned by a sense of being internally content
  2. Relationships matter. Positive relationships can be motivational and supportive and might come via services, children, or people with similar experiences
  3. Quality matters. The good life included a good job that was fulfilling; a safe, clean home; respect and courtesy from services.
  4. The good life in its fullest sense goes beyond traditional ‘needs-led’ service provision, for example including informal support networks or outdoor activities and sports
  5. The good life is a journey, not a single vision. Participants highlighted the setbacks and difficulties which are part of this journey.

collage 3

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