“PBS can really transform a client’s life”
I’m a Positive Behaviour Support Senior. I work with clients in our learning disability services who present with behaviours that others may see as challenging.
Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is person-centred support. It takes into account a client’s environment, physical health, and emotional wellbeing. It promotes choice.
We support clients to be in as much control of their lives as they can be. PBS can really transform a client’s life. Their anxieties can reduce and their happiness increase with changes put in place.
At Southdown, if a client’s behaviour changes, a PBS Senior may be referred to the service where they live and observe why there might be a change in behaviour.
We get inducted as a member of the service team, sometimes for a couple of months to a year. We’re a fresh pair of eyes and we’re there to support the team too.
I observe the dynamics of the service and the behaviours that a client presents. I look at the reasons for the behaviour. There’s always something being communicated.
I learn the best practice from the client’s support workers. Everyone does something great – from saying ‘hello’ in the morning, to support with personal care, to trips out doing something meaningful.
I accumulate this best practice into one place and that’s my starting point to write the PBS Plan.
The PBS Plan is a full support plan which covers all aspects of a client’s life, including staff rota and support. It is a document focused around behaviour. We want to reduce behaviours of concern and give a client as much control as possible. The sole aim is to improve quality of life.
Part of the plan will include supporting clients to be as independent as possible. Building rapport is also a very important part of our support.
The PBS Plan will include guidelines around how to communicate and how to approach support for the client. When a team consistently follows these guidelines, the client’s anxiety will be reduced.
When anxieties are reduced, quality of life increases, the client is happier, and incidents decrease.
For example, a client I worked with called Sam (name changed), who is non-verbal and in his late 30s, was communicating that living in his current environment was unsuitable for him. Sharing communal areas was difficult.
The behaviours of concern he presented were self-injury and total loss of control – like pacing, throwing objects at people, and open hand strikes. It was a challenging situation to keep everybody safe.
For Sam, to reduce anxiety we realised he needed to move. Alternative suitable accommodation for his needs was found. His PBS plan moved with him. It was my job to review the plan to make sure it fitted with the new service where he would be living, induct the team, and share my approaches with them.
On the day of the move, I supported him on a train ride to Gatwick airport because he loves trains. Whilst we were out, the team moved his things into his new flat, making sure his bed was ready and that all his belongings were there. This was key to helping Sam understand that this is where he would now be living. We gave Sam time to explore his new surroundings. We were positive, warm, and reassuring. He settled in so well!
Because Sam was now in a more suitable environment for his needs, he presented less behaviours of concern from day one. And because it was a calmer atmosphere for him, he started to communicate more using Makaton.
He’s a lot happier, his anxiety has greatly reduced, and has more control of his life and communicates better. His quality of life has really improved.
It was a really rewarding placement for me. It’s really nice seeing Sam form meaningful relationships with his new team. They did an amazing job and worked really hard to build rapport. I’m confident he’ll keep receiving the support he needs.
As a PBS Senior, each placement is so different. I get to meet new clients and meet new teams, and share experiences and learn from new people. It’s a really rewarding job.
We provide care and support for over 220 people with learning disabilities, 60% of whom have additional complex needs, either behaviour support needs and/or physical disabilities. To enable us to provide the very best care and support for people with learning disabilities, we have a specialist focus on improving people’s quality of life and reducing challenging behaviour through Positive Behaviour Support (PBS).