Positive Behaviour Support integrates ‘Applied Behaviour Analysis’ (analysing the causes and consequences of someone’s challenging behaviour) with person-centred approaches which look at the person’s whole life. It has a primary aim of improving their quality of life.

The process of developing a positive behaviour approach for someone’s support has four main stages:

Functional assessment

A Behaviour Support Advisor will start by carrying out a comprehensive functional assessment of a person’s behaviour from the person’s perspective. This means looking at the purpose the behaviour has for someone and which particular needs are met by the behaviour. Then taking a broader view of their life, the Behaviour Support Advisor will look at what links the reasons behind the challenging behaviour and the person’s social and physical environment.

Behaviour support planning

The conclusions from the functional assessment inform the plans that are developed from this point onwards. The Behaviour Support Advisor will build an overview of the plans that are needed by weighing up the priorities to manage risks in the person’s life, while making sure that all elements of their life are improved by the new plans.

In a proactive approach, these plans will include developing strategies which address any issues with the person’s physical or social environment. It will also be important to develop support plans to teach the person new skills in a co-ordinated way.

Some of these will teach general skills to help the person to be more independent. Some plans will look at teaching them ways of coping with situations they find difficult or ways of reacting differently in situations in which they would usually challenge.

Finally the reactive approaches for when the person has challenging behaviour will be reviewed and developed. The reactive plans will be tailored so they are an appropriate response with regard to the function of the behaviour for that individual. It will make sure that the staff’s response is consistent, appropriate and non-punitive.

A vital element of Positive Behaviour Support is that all the techniques, methods and plans are non-aversive and do not use any form of punishment.

Implementing Behaviour Support Plans

This stage starts with staff training specific to the team that will be working with an individual. Then the plans are introduced in line with the assessed priorities for the person. Staff are observed, given feedback and coached to develop a consistent approach across the support service. There is a focus on improving the quality of the support by not just looking at written records but by working alongside the staff.

Monitoring & Evaluation

The fourth stage of a Positive Behaviour Support approach is to set up ways of monitoring the efficacy of the support. An important part of this is to evaluate what has been implemented to make sure that it has improved the quality of the person’s life and reduced the severity and frequency of the incidents of their challenging behaviour.

It is important to leave a service with a cohesive way of monitoring their approach so that they maintain the quality of the support. As the person learns and develops in their life the plans must be developed and adapted so that the quality of their support is continued. To do this a staff team will commonly chart the frequency and severity of incidents and implement a Periodic Service Review alongside this.