What are independent living skills?
Independent living skills, commonly called life skills, are a person's abilities to be genuinely called independent. These skills are essential; everyone should have them because they will help us live, survive, and care for ourselves, especially when we’re alone
These skills are divided into different categories, each representing an aspect of daily living important for self-sufficiency. Here they are:
- General Life Skills (e.g., personal hygiene, dressing up)
- Emergency and Safety Skills (e.g., understanding what to do in case of fire or earthquakes, knowing how to interact with law enforcement, knowing how to treat minor wounds)
- Nutrition and Dietary Skills (e.g., can discern what food and drinks are healthy and unhealthy, knows how to build a grocery list)
- Money and Financial Planning Skills (e.g., knows how to budget money, knows how to file taxes)
- Healthcare Skills (e.g., knows what to do if they have common health problems, knows how to reach medical providers)
- Sexual Health Skills (e.g., understands consent, knows the difference between private and public places and behavior)
- Interpersonal and Social Skills (e.g., knowing what personal space is, knowing how to resolve conflict, knowing how to ask for help)
- Kitchen Skills (e.g., knows how to cook, knows how to use cooking utensils safely, knows how to use kitchen appliances safely)
- Laundry Skills (e.g., places dirty clothes in appropriate containers, knows how to segregate clothing when doing the laundry, knows how to fold clothing)
- Household Skills (e.g., cleaning rooms regularly, taking the trash outside every day, knows how to repair things)
- Community Skills (e.g., crosses the street safely, takes public transportation, fastens seatbelt when riding or driving a car)
- Housing Skills (e.g., knows how to pick apartments/houses, understands terms like lease and sublets)
- Employment Skills (e.g., knows how to put together a resume and cover letter, knows how to prepare for a job interview, knows how to conduct themselves in a workplace environment)
- Legal Rights and Responsibilities (e.g., knows what their rights are when arrested, knows where to get legal services, knows where to seek legal advice)
How to use the Independent Living Skills Checklist:
Independent Living Skills Checklists are nifty tools for determining if a person has the necessary living skills to live self-sufficiently and autonomously. Social workers often use it in various settings involving cases where they need to identify areas of support that they can account for when dealing with specific people, like persons with disabilities, older adults living alone, and those seeking help with personal development.
Our Independent Living Skills Checklist template is easy to use. It’s divided into multiple sections named after each of the categories listed in the previous section. Each of them has their own set of “I” statements. All a person needs to do is to rate the person they’re evaluating or themselves. Each item has the same set of answer choices:
- I can do this already
- I need more practice
- I plan to start doing this
- I require support for this
- Not applicable to me
They just need to tick which one applies to them per item. Here’s an example of items that need to be ticked under the Laundry Skills category:
- I know how to put dirty clothes in the hamper or an appropriate container
- I know how to segregate clothing before doing the laundry
- I know how to operate a washer and dryer
- I know how to use laundry detergent
- I know how to clean lint after each drying cycle
- I know how to fold clothes
- I know how to arrange clothes in a closet or drawer neatly
Independent Living Skills Checklist example (sample)
Now that you know what independent living skills are and what to expect from Independent Living Skills Checklists, it’s time to acquaint you with our template by showing you what it looks like when filled out.
Here is what it looks like:
It’s a long checklist with a landscape orientation. As we mentioned earlier, the checklist is divided into several sections, each with its own set of items. Beside each item is a row of checkboxes representing five different self-ratings. Those using the template must tick the self-rating that best applies to them.
If you like what you see and believe this is an excellent tool to hand to people during related social work, feel free to download our free Independent Living Skills Checklist PDF template!
When is it best to use an Independent Living Skills Checklist?
When support services are assessing persons with disabilities
Suppose you’re a social worker specializing in supporting persons with disabilities. In that case, you can issue this Independent Living Skills Checklist to them or their companions (just in case the person with a disability cannot use their hands) to learn what independent living skills they can do on their own without problem, which ones require practice, and which ones they can’t do or require support.
When counseling young adults about independent adult life
If you’re a counselor or social worker who talks to young adults about independent adult life before they finish their studies and go to the “real world,” you can use this checklist during your discussions. This checklist can help counselors and social workers zoom into the independent living skills that these young adults need more practice on or need to learn so that when they start living autonomously, they can become self-sufficient and responsible adults.
When life coaches are handling new clients
If you’re a life coach or a personal development coach handling new clients, one way to get to know them, their current strengths, and areas of improvement is to use an Independent Living Skills Checklist. By learning the areas of improvement and where they need support, you can create a life coaching plan that they can follow so they can put in the work to ensure they become more self-sufficient than they currently are.
What are the benefits of using Independent Living Skills Checklists?
It can help social workers and physical therapists create intervention plans for people with disabilities
A person with disabilities doesn’t mean they can’t be independent. They can do specific things without assistance. Still, depending on their disability, there are particular tasks that they might not be able to do at all without assistance and whatever skills they used to have before becoming disabled (that is, if they were completely healthy and had no prior disabilities), they might not be able to do anymore.
Social workers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and other similar professionals can use the findings of the Living Skills Checklists to determine the necessary interventions that a person needs and what support they need.
It can be used to promote self-awareness and goal setting
By filling out an Independent Living Skills Checklist, users can think about what they can do perfectly on their own, where they still need improvement, where and what they need support with, and what they need to learn. By becoming aware of what skills they lack or need improvement, they can set the necessary goals to ensure they become good enough with specific independent living skills and self-sufficiency.
It can be used to monitor the progress of particular individuals.
Suppose you’re a social worker or life coach who routinely keeps track of your clients. You can keep records of fully accomplished Independent Living Skills Checklists. Whenever they have an appointment with you, you can hand them another copy of the checklist to see if there are any changes to the self-ratings they give themselves compared to the previous one. Any changes to the self-ratings can be used to modify action plans.