People display challenging or distressed behaviours for a reason. It could be the only way they can communicate at that time, or an expression of their feelings or of pain. A range of approaches can help us understand what this behaviour means and support people in such a way that protects their human rights and means that behaviours which put them or others at risk of harm are less likely.
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Get help making decisions when planning, purchasing or providing learning and development that will help your workforce to work in a positive and proactive way when supporting people who display behaviours which challenge and/or distressed behaviour.
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Recognising behaviour as distress
In April 2019, The national autistic task force published , the first independent and autistic-authored guide to what good quality care and support looks like, for autistic people of all ages and right across the autistic spectrum.
We have heavily drawn on their recommendation 7; Recognising behaviour as distress, which should be relevant to support for all people whether autistic or not:
- Treat the use of any physical intervention, pharmaceutical control of behaviour or any other forms of restraint as failures and seek to create a service free from physical interventions and pharmaceutical control of behaviour.
- Don’t blame (autism) or the person’s disability. ‘Challenging’ behaviours are not an inevitable consequence of autism or a learning disability.
- Don’t label people as ‘complex’, seek to understand and empathise with their perspective.
- Do not remove choice and control from a person, seek to find more ways they can have choice and control over their own lives.
- Challenge proposals/decisions to remove a person from their local community.
- Modify the environment to meet needs, look for underlying causes not just triggers.
- Work with, not against, the person (and where relevant their family) – supporting them to manage stress and recover from distress.
- Avoid focussing on behaviour ‘management’ at the expense of meeting needs.
- Accept and accommodate behaviours that do not infringe on the rights of others.
- Support people to find practical ways to meet their needs which minimise overall harm to themselves and respect the rights of others.
- Recognise when service policies, placement environments or particular staff are not the right match for the individual.
- Identify when stretched public resources are leading to short term decisions which are unlikely to be cost effective in the long term.
- Identify when behaviour is related to an unmet need, and meet the need.
Restraint Reduction Network (RRN) Training Standards 2019
These standards provide a national benchmark for training in restrictive practices and focus on the fundamental principles that apply to all populations (people with a mental health condition, learning disability, autism or dementia) and settings (across education health and social care).
Approaches to supporting people
Information about a range of approaches to supporting people with challenging or distressed behaviour.
Positive behavioural support (PBS)
Specific information about positive behavioural support (PBS), a way of supporting people that involves understanding the reasons behind challenging and distressed behaviour.