Supporting decisions: 3. What will help me live a good life?

Decision 3: What will help me live a good life?

The main aim of Behaviour Support is to help the person to live a good life. Living a good life means doing more of the things that are important to you and that you like doing. Living a good life means you are living a life that matches your values.

To help the person live a good life the practitioner will want to understand:

  • what the person is finding difficult and what is getting in the way of them doing the things that are important to them
  • what the person needs to help them live a good life.

The first step in supporting someone with this decision is to ask yourself:

Who should support the person with this decision?

You may or may not be the best supporter for this decision. It’s important not to assume you are.

Here are some questions to help you think about whether you are the right supporter for this decision.

  1. Have you asked the person who they want to support them with this decision?
  2. Do you feel you are the best person to support this decision or is there someone else that would be better placed to do this?
  3. Will you be able to give the person the information they need to make the decision without giving them your opinion?
  4. Have you provided them with options in a way they can understand? Think about how the person you support communicates. How do they usually need to have the information given to them so they can make a choice? How will they need information to make this decision?

Things the supporter can do to support the person with this decision

To help the person to think about what they find difficult and what support they need, you can help them think about:

  • What makes me sad?
  • What makes me angry?
  • What are the things I don’t like?
  • What helps me when this happens?
  • What makes things worse?
  • Who knows what support I need?

Watch this video where Sidharth, Luke and their supporters talk about what helps them to live a good life.

To help the person think about what they need to live a good life you can help them think about:

  • What is going well in my life?
  • What I like doing now?
  • What I would like to do more of in the future?
  • Who is important to me?

We all need similar things to live a good life but what we think is important and what we enjoy doing is different for everyone. For example: Mary needs to spend time with their friends weekly and Jacob prefers to see friends about once a month. Mark likes to experience new places and meet new people and Louise is more comfortable with familiar places and people.

Some of the things that are important to everyone to living a good life are:

  • Getting good support
  • Having friends and family
  • Feeling safe
  • Having a good home
  • Staying healthy
  • Doing things that you like
  • Learning new things
  • Being in the community with everyone else.

Remember this is about what is important to me and what I like. If I don’t know help me explore different options. I might have to try something to know if I like it or not.

Portrait of Lily

In this video, Jo Watson talks about understanding the preference of people with severe to profound disability. She shows how Tom’s support team work together to understand what Tom likes.

How to understand what someone with complex communication needs to live a good life

  • Spending a lot of time with the person and working closely with the people who know them well will help with understanding what the person needs to live a good life.
  • Looking at the person will help understand what they prefer. Look at what are their eyes telling you? Are they looking towards something that interests them?  What are their facial expressions telling you?  What is their behaviour telling you when they are trying new things, going to new places and being with people and when they are experiencing sensory activities?
  • Learn what the person likes by listening to them. Listen to the sounds they make. Listen to their laugh, cries, smiles and silence to understand what they like and don’t like. Look at how they behave, what does it tell you?
  • Imagine what the person would do and say if they had total control over their lives. What would they choose to do with their time, what would they wear, who would they choose to be around?


  • What is the person you support’s vision of a good life?
  • What do they enjoy doing?
  • What do they want for their future?
  • What more could be done to support them to live a good life?

This workbook, ‘What will help me live a good life’, is designed to complete with the person to help them think about and document what they need to live a good life.

Further reading

The following documents are designed to assist with collecting information about what the person with complex communication prefers.

For more information about supporting people with complex communication to make decisions.