Traffic Life Game is an educational board game developed by NHS clinical psychologists. It helps adults with learning disabilities to recognise and manage the risks associated with relationships. People with learning disabilities are often excluded from family or peer conversations about relationships issues during their upbringing, because it’s assumed that they won’t understand. This results in the possibility that without support, they may not recognise potentially unsafe situations or how to keep themselves safe.
The original game was developed by Laura Ogi (Lead Clinical Psychologist) at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust (BCH) to help staff encourage these discussions and make the discussions more memorable for the players. The game may be the only opportunity they’ve ever had to discuss these important issues. The game has been edited and published by Focus Games Ltd and is now available to all service providers.
At the heart of the game is a traffic light risk assessment system that helps players to recognise and assess risks relating to romantic, social, and family issues and situations. During the game players are presented with a series of short questions and scenarios relating to everyday life and relationships – both social and romantic. Players must respond to these by holding up a coloured card to indicate how they might respond:
• Red. It’s not safe.
• Amber. I’m not sure.
• Green. It’s OK to try.
The facilitator then leads a discussion with the players about what the risks might be and then judges how ‘safe’ the answers given actually are. The game is not competitive and is designed to be fun, relaxed and non-threatening.
When facilitating the game with their service users, staff at Dumbarton Community Health & Care Partnership’s day centre said:
“Very easy to understand and aided in bringing up useful conversation.
“It was very effective in not only helping clients talk about risks but to look at areas we need to work on.”
The game offers an easy and non-threatening opportunity to talk about complex social concepts and contexts. By helping people with learning disabilities to develop strategies to cope with these challenges the game supports their engagement with family, friends and the community. Possibilities for using the game are varied, and would include use in health and social care or education settings.