Assessing Quality of Life with Persons with Special Needs


Students worked with persons with mental and emotional challenges at the Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre in Waterville Nova Scotia to assess their quality of life in their living and leisure settings. The goal was to determine the extent to which they have the choices, respect, support, independence and opportunities based on quality of life standards developed for residential and day settings in Nova Scotia. Student developed strong relationships with people with special needs, and staff, coming to appreciate their assets, and the opportunities and challenges they face in their daily lives. They were also exposed to policies and practices of a large organizational setting and came to understandthe strengths and challenges in offering quality programming in these settings. Students produced a detailed report for the Rehabilitation Centre and made a formal presentation to the management team and clinical staff on their results and recommendations for improvements in programming.


Sustainable Annapolis Valley

The Annapolis Valley offers a living experience unique to other regions in Canada. It attracts young families, artists, musicians, organic farmers and other folks interested in pursuing a high quality of life. While statistical indicators of quality of life are available, they do not capture the deeper essence of what it means to live in the region and participate in building community to transition to a sustainable local economy. This community based project partnered with the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts explored the essence of what attracts innovative social and environmental entrepreneurs to the region and what keep them here.  Using ethnographic research techniques including interviewing, participant observation and photo narratives, students captured the lived day-to-day stories of a unique cross-section of individuals. The final result was an art gallery display portraying some of the social capital in the region through photo narratives and life stories at the intersection of work, leisure and place.


Leisure Education

Students designed, delivered and assessed the benefit of a Leisure Education program and resource manual with social workers at the IWK Children's Hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Being able to provide families and children in need with additional resources, such as leisure education, can aid in the recovery of stressful situations and can be beneficial to the long term impact of living a normal lifestyle. The leisure education process has great potential as a social work tool for work with parents of children with special needs. Participants expressed the following outcomes upon completion of the training:

"I need to make leisure a priority."

"There's a lot more leisure in my life than I thought!"

"I now know how to move beyond barriers and excuses."

"It highlighted the importance of leisure as positive care for families in crisis."

"These tools will be useful in encouraging them to focus on self-care."

Students gained immensely by working as a group to define, design and implement the program, appreciating all the dynamics and skills needed in carrying out a high level program for professionals.