Working with patients to achieve goals and fulfil both physical and emotional needs is at the core of occupational therapy. Each patient will be different and will have a very different set of goals, values and needs that they will prioritise over other aspects of their lives. A recent survey has shown that one of the biggest factors for a person to feel they are living well is if they are getting good quality sleep. Job security, sexual satisfaction and connectedness to our communities also rank highly.

This survey was commissioned by supermarket giant, Sainbury’s, as they recently created a Living Well Index in conjunction with researchers Oxford Economics and the National Centre for Social Research, to give them an insight into what Britons hold as key factors to living well in today’s society.

A nationally representative panel of 8,250 people were questioned about 60 different aspects of life, from finances and relationships, to sleep quality and health and the findings have been quite eye opening.

The average Briton has a ‘Living Well’ score of 62.2 out of 100. Those who have scored between 72 and 92 have been described as those living best and make up 20% of the representative panel. By comparing the differences between the answers of the average Briton and those scoring in the top 20% they have uncovered some interesting insights into what we value highly in living well.

Five factors that separate a typical person from those living best: 

1.A Good Night’s Sleep

With a typical Briton only feeling rested after sleep ‘some of the time’, research has shown that sleep quality can explain 3.8 points of difference between their Living Well score and those who are living best in the top 20% of the Index. For the typical Brit, improving their sleep to the level of someone at the top of the Index would be equivalent to them having over four times as much disposable income.

Sleep was the strongest indicator of a broader sense of wellbeing, controlling for other factors. The majority of those with the highest Living Well scores reported feeling well rested most of the time (60%), whilst over half of those in the bottom 20% of the Index said that they rarely, or never, felt well rested.

2.Sex Life Satisfaction: Across the population as a whole, just over a third (35%) said they were fairly or very satisfied with their sex lives. Once again, these individuals were disproportionately likely to be found at the top of the Living Well Index – with almost two thirds (63%) of those at the top saying that they were satisfied with their sex life, twice the national average.

3.Job Security: For the typical Briton, their perceived level of job security is another important differentiator to those living best, suggesting that the peace of mind this can bring contributes significantly to how well we feel we live. Among working people, 43% of those with the highest Index scores also experience a very high degree of job security, almost twice the national average. Overall, job security explained a 1.8 point gap between the typical working Brit and those living best.

4.Health of Close Relatives: For the typical person, worries about the health of close relations emerges as a significant barrier to living very well. The analysis found that worries over the health of close relations contributes a difference of 1.75 points between the typical Briton and those living best.

5.Community connectedness: Stronger connections with the people we share a community with is an important factor for those who experience the highest quality of life in Britain. The analysis suggests that by enhancing the quality and strength of these local relationships, people could live happier, more satisfied lives. The typical person speaks to their neighbours once or twice a month. But doing so as much as people in the top 20% of the Living Well Index – among whom almost 70% speak to neighbours once or twice a week – could add 1.6 points to their Index scores.

To take part in a simplified version of the Sainsbury’s Living Well Index, get a personal Living Well score and to receive simple suggestions for actions to improve it, you can go to www.about.sainsburys.co.uk/living-well-index. The methodology of the Index is available on the Sainsbury’s website.