Independent Living Preparation Guide

Independent Living Preparation Guide

This preparation guide is meant to assist potential residents and their families in determining the readiness of persons desiring life in an independent setting. This checklist is NOT an eligibility assessment.  Divided into categories, it is provided to help potential residents understand their strengths, areas for improvement and what they can do at their current residence to engage in skill acquisition.  Learning independent living skills is an ongoing, life-long process.


Safety at Home

  • Knows how to exit apartment in event of an emergency
  • Does not answer the door for someone unexpected or unknown
  • Understands the danger of:
    • Taking someone else’s medication
    • Using kitchen appliances
    • Identity and financial theft on the internet and phone

Safety Away from Home

  • Carries identification at all times
  • Can identify self and give appropriate information during an emergency
  • Can use cell phone
  • Stays alert and aware of surroundings when walking
  • Knows how to use or access public or other forms of transportation

Emergency Situations

  • Knows and is able to perform simple first aid (apply bandage, clean cuts, etc.)
  • Keeps list and knows how to contact property management, doctors, police/fire department, pharmacy and support staff.




  • Knows social security number
  • Knows bank name and how to access accounts or online statements
  • Knows how to make deposits and withdrawals
  • Knows how to use debit card responsibly


  • Knows value of currency
  • Has basic math skills
  • Completes transactions at stores and restaurants independently
  • Understands budgeting and the consequences of not paying bills
  • Saves for special purchases or unexpected expenses
  • Knows not to borrow from or lend money to anyone

Household Upkeep

Household Chores

  • Changes/washes bed linens and towels regularly
  • Knows how to safely do laundry
  • Takes out trash and replaces trash can liners at least weekly
  • Adheres to cleaning schedules (self and shared)
  • Knows what cleaning products and equipment to use for different jobs and how to properly store them

Household Maintenance

  • Knows how to use toilet plunger
  • Changes light bulbs and batteries safely
  • Cleans dryer lint screen after each use

Health and Hygiene

Personal Hygiene

  • Knows proper toileting hygiene
  • Brushes teeth twice daily
  • Showers/bathes daily
  • Maintains appropriate nail length
  • Recognizes when to get a hair cut
  • Gentlemen groom facial hair
  • Women use and dispose of feminine products
  • Determines need for and replacement of personal care items and procures them
  • Wears appropriate, clean, well-fitting clothing suitable for occasion/weather situation


  • Goes to bed at an appropriate time
  • Sets and uses an alarm clock
  • Rises in sufficient time to dress, eat and get ready for work or daily activity


  • Takes medications as prescribed
  • Know how to use pharmacy services to fill/refill prescription
  • Uses system to organize and adhere to medication regimen

General Health

  • Knows how and when to reach medical providers
  • Knows to alert someone if there are signs of illness
  • Knows procedures to keep healthy (wash hands, keep safe distance from those who are ill)
  • Uses and disposes of tissues appropriately

Kitchen Skills

Meal Planning

  • Knows what constitutes healthy eating and plans healthy meals
  • Develops a weekly shopping list to maintain appropriate amount of food at home
  • Knows how to use EBT card to purchase groceries and can share shopping expenses with roommate when applicable
  • Strives to reduce dining out costs

Food Preparation

  • Understands food/kitchen sanitation basics
  • Follows simple recipe
  • Knows how to prepare food to cook
  • Knows how to use kitchen tools and appliances

At Home Dining

  • Knows table manners and can set a table properly
  • Cleans up after meals (washes dishes, loads/runs dishwasher, cleans eating areas and counters, disposes of garbage and recycles appropriately)


Leisure Skills and Development

  • Plans and schedules weekly leisure activities
  • Budgets for activities and transportation
  • Occupies free time with appropriate activities

Social and Emotional Skills

  • Understands other people’s boundaries and demonstrates respect
  • Knows when displays of affection are appropriate
  • Maintains appropriate personal space
  • Respects others’ personal property
  • Knows how to manage conflict and stress while keeping calm
  • Expresses emotions appropriately

Employment/Vocational Rehab

  • Has paid employment
  • If not employed, works on skill set to obtain employment through vocational rehabilitation
  • Has reliable transportation to and from work
  • Respects authority
  • Uses a job coach to obtain and maintain employment


  • Maintains and uses calendar system
  • Cooperates with roommates in developing and following shared chore charts
  • Maintains order of personal areas such as bedroom and bathroom


  • Knows transportation options and how to use them
  • Knows how/where to purchase transportation pass
  • Can schedule transportation
  • Knows how to find assistance if lost or can solve transportation crisis by contacting support personnel