The Importance of Quality Relationships

With the official start of the NDIS in Australia on July 1, 2016, an opportunity has opened up for people with disabilities and their families to rethink their future goals.  For those who are happy with where they were heading, things may continue on a similar course.  But for others; those who were unsure of their direction, looking to explore other possibilities or imagining something better, the NDIS may be the opportunity to rethink or tweak goals.  Along with informal supports, community supports, mainstream supports, the NDIS may then provide reasonable and necessary support to contribute towards making those goals a reality.  My hope is that many plans feature quality relationships as part of those goals! 

I was watching a TED talk recently about a Harvard study that has been going for over 75 years.  Back in 1938, a group of researchers began a study with a group of people that measured a whole range of things that track how that group travelled through life.  When the study reached 75 years, they looked back over the data with an eye to measuring how well people in that group travelled and what factors may have helped with that.  I don’t have the space here to go through all the data but the conclusion the researchers arrived at was that considering all the metrics, the single outstanding factor that contributed to people faring well in life were the quality of the relationships in their life.  Those who identified as having strong, quality relationships in their life measured strongly across a lot of the metrics of the study.  This contrasted sharply with those who didn’t have strong relationships in their life.  Quality relationships add so much to our life, including health and wellbeing benefits.  

As I write this article, I’ve just returned from my uncle’s funeral in Victoria.  The funeral and the events after were a special time of sharing stories, sharing food (which is a must at any of our family events, including funerals!) and sharing life.  As I watched everyone supporting each other as they tried to cope with their loss, I was reminded yet again on how important strong, supportive relationships are both in good times and difficult times.  As I get older, I’m appreciating more and more the importance of prioritising those aspects of my life that are important to me and strong, quality relationships are certainly high on that list for me. 

How might the NDIS help in finding and developing relationships?   What am I doing in my life to maintain and develop the relationships I currently have?  It’s true that you can’t organise or create relationships but you can create the conditions where relationships have the chance to begin and develop.  It’s worth thinking about!   

- Peter Vacca, September 2016