What is positive behaviour support?
Positive behaviour support is a person-centred clinical support framework for people that have behaviours of concern. ‘Behaviours of concern’ means behaviours which negatively impact upon the quality of life or safety of a person with a disability, their family or support network.
Not everyone needs positive behaviour support, but people who have behaviours of concern directly related to their disability can access funding for behaviour support as part of their NDIS plan. Funding will usually cover an assessment from a behaviour support practitioner to support the person and their network to better understand the behaviour and why it may occur.
The behaviour support practitioner will then work with the person and their family or informal supports to build a behaviour support plan containing proactive strategies, skill development and crisis management for the behaviours, and provide ongoing training and implementation support in these strategies.
When should I start thinking about behaviour support funding?
As with any kind of planning, the sooner you can start thinking about your person’s behaviour support needs, the better. It is worth initiating the process to get behaviour support funding whilst your person is still at school, as the absence of a plan where needed can delay the process of enrolling in post-school services such as day programs.
If your person has significant behaviours of concern this will likely be clear already. You may be accessing behaviour support through school, and the school will be able to provide you with evidence to request behaviour support funding at your NDIS planning meeting. If not, you can request funding for a behaviour support assessment in your next review meeting.
Having a behaviour support plan already in place when your child leaves school can afford a more seamless transition to post-school. For more advice on navigating the challenging transition from school to post-school, check out this webinar and blog.
How a behaviour support plan can improve your experience of post-school services
To access a post-school SLES or day program, you will need to go through an intake process. During the intake process the service provider will ask you questions about your person’s personal details, skills, interests, likes and dislikes, disability, any communication, personal care or mealtime assistance required, and about any behaviours. The service provider may feel, after talking to you, that they are not able to support your person without a behaviour support plan in place. Initiating the process to secure behaviour support funding and put a behaviour support plan in place at this stage will lead to delays in enrolment, and possibly lead to a period where your person does not have access to services.
- Implementing your behaviour support plan at the post-school service
– Once you have provided your behaviour support plan to your service provider, they can then ensure this is available to all the staff who are supporting your person. This means that everyone your person works with understands the specific strategies, techniques and practices in your behaviour support plan and can help you implement these. With the right support, your person should have a more enjoyable experience at the service, and be better able to progress towards their goals.
– Your behaviour support funding likely includes funding for hours for your practitioner to work collaboratively with your other supports. You can use this funding for your practitioner to train managers and support workers at your service provider.
Many people understandably feel conflicted when discussing behaviour support needs with a new provider. On the one hand, they want to be open, and divulge enough information for the provider to support their person effectively. On the flipside, they don’t want to portray their person as “difficult” to support, and risk rejection from the service. However, it’s best to be transparent because, if you find out too late that a service provider cannot support your person or manage their behaviours, this can lead to disruptions in service, lack of continuity and even needing to exit the service.
There may be some providers that don’t have the capacity or experience to support your person effectively and safely and will say no. Ultimately, this is a good thing – as it means the provider recognises they are unable to provide the level of support your person needs and deserves.
What if my person has already left school?
You may have experienced delays in enrolling in a post-school day or SLES program due to the absence of a behaviour support plan, or you may have enrolled and found that some behaviours have emerged or worsened that were previously well-managed in a school environment.
If your person has already transitioned from school, you can still go back to the NDIS and request funding for behaviour support if you think you need it.
You can request behaviour support funding at your next planning meeting and ask your current service providers to supply evidence to support your request. Evidence can include letters detailing observed behaviours, and incident reports. If it is urgent, you can get in touch with the NDIS to request a review or reassessment of your NDIS plan.
Where can I find out more?
You can watch the webinar recording where Alex Browne, Fighting Chance NDIS specialist, and Henry Ellen, a behaviour support practitioner from Plus, discuss all things behaviour support.
If you have behaviour support funding and are looking for a practitioner to work with, Plus’ new clinical services unit is based on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and is welcoming new clients in the area.
Avenue is a social enterprise empowered by Fighting Chance. Fighting Chance leads an educational series sharing information and resources to empower you with the knowledge, skills and confidence to advocate for yourself and get the most out of the NDIS. Click here to see previous webinar topics (including the webinar on learning how to speak ‘NDIS’ and build a better understanding of how NDIS funding decisions are made).