A Positive Behaviour Approach


What is positive behaviour support?

Positive behaviour support is an evidence based approach. It is proven to be successful in increasing quality of life and reducing behaviours of concern.


It is not a fad or buzzword and is based on research. When you improve a person’s quality of life, they often don’t need to use behaviours of concern anymore. Quality of life can be improved by actively assisting a person to live the life they want to lead. Make sure the person’s rights are upheld and assist the person to develop personal relationships, improve their health, be more active in the community, or develop personally.


When people are happily engaged in doing the things they like, with the people they like, they tend not to use behaviours of concern. It’s the same for all of us. When using positive behaviour support you should:


1. Make sure the person is living the best life they possibly can.


Often this is all you need to do. If the person is leading a good life and the behaviours of concern continue, you should:


2. Understand why the person uses behaviours of concern.

3. Address or modify the environment that triggers the behaviours of concern.

4. Teach the person new skills to meet their needs so they can use the new skills and not the behaviours of concern.

5. Have clear strategies to safely manage behaviours of concern with an emphasis on stopping and reducing the impact of the incident.


These responsive strategies should not include any form of punishment. Example-Simon is a young man in his early twenties.


Simon has lots of energy, and loves being busy. His favourite things to do are swimming, cooking and spending time with his family. He also loves music, especially turning up the stereo and singing at the top of his voice. Simon works in a lawn-mowing crew three days per week and attends cooking classes on the other two weekdays. On Saturday, Simon had been in his bedroom all morning. Then he came and asked staff what was for lunch. Staff told Simon lunch would not be ready for another hour. Simon pushed the microwave off the kitchen bench, breaking it. He said, ‘I hate your lunch anyway.’ Simon then left the house without telling staff.


Based on this scenario, a positive behaviour support approach would include:


1. Making sure the person is living the best life they possibly can.


Simon and his staff, family and friends review his person-centred plan. They make sure Simon is doing the things he likes to do, and can pursue goals Simon has chosen for himself. They also make sure he spends lots of time with the people he likes most, not only on weekdays but also on the weekend.


2. Understanding why Simon uses behaviours of concern.


Simon loves social interaction and none was happening. He also enjoys cooking with others. When he tried to initiate some interaction around his lunch he was not given the opportunity to interact and cook.


3. Addressing or modifying the environment that triggers the behaviours of concern.


In future, staff will include Simon in morning social activities, including preparing lunch with staff.


4. Teaching Simon new skills.


Staff are teaching Simon how to start a friendly conversation. They have taught him to ask ‘Hi, how is your day going?’ Each time Simon asks this question, staff spend some time chatting to Simon about their day, and asking him about his. Staff are also teaching Simon how to prepare meals. This includes choosing what to make, buying the ingredients and step-by-step support to make his chosen meal.


5. Having clear strategies to safely manage behaviours of concern.


Staff have been trained that if Simon starts to escalate, they should interact and acknowledge why Simon is upset (likely because he wants to cook and be included). Staff should offer to include Simon in activities such as making a snack or meal. Staff should also be aware of safety, e.g. keeping a safe distance, prompting easier meals to make, using safer utensils in the kitchen and going with him if he wants to leave the house. Staff have been trained to no longer tell Simon to stop or tell him off for his behaviour as this can upset him more.


Who should have a positive behaviour support plan?

All people who use behaviours of concern should have a positive behaviour support plan. The plan should improve the person’s quality of life and decrease their behaviours of concern. A person’s positive behaviour support plan is required by law if restrictive practices are used. A restrictive practice may be necessary for the safety of the person or others. The positive behaviour support plan helps to reduce and eliminate the use of restrictive practices. Most people’s behaviours of concern don’t require a restrictive practice.


What is a positive behaviour support plan?

A positive behaviour support plan describes support for a person who uses behaviours of concern. Guidelines, templates and a model plan are available from the Centre of Excellence for Clinical Innovation and Behaviour Support website. A positive behaviour support plan should describe:

  • Why the person uses behaviours of concern.

  • How the environment can be changed to make this behaviour unnecessary.

  • Specific ways to teach the person new skills so they don’t need to use behaviours of concern to get their needs met.

  • Clear procedures for responding to behaviours of concern without punishment.

  • A process to track plan implementation and outcomes, e.g. evidence of skills development and frequency, intensity

Quality Health Cares Therapy team utilises Positive Behaviour Support practices with all clients. If you feel you may benefit from a plan or clinical support, please visit our website by clicking the following link.

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