This project tested collaborative person centred positive behaviour support for people with complex support needs who live in rural settings where specialist support services are not readily available.
There are limited specialist behaviour supports for people with a disability who display behaviours of concern and reside in the rural region of Mildura, Victoria. Generally, people need to travel to either Melbourne or Bendigo or interstate to Adelaide to obtain a specialist assessment.
Accessing specialist behaviour support for people with a disability requires extensive travel of anywhere between five to seven hours one way from Mildura. Travelling to access supports is expensive and can prevent some participants receiving the supports that they require to increase their economic and social participation. In addition, interventions have not always been person centred and/or strengths based.
An assessment and intervention method based on active and positive behaviour support was undertaken and evaluated to determine if the model was effective in decreasing behaviours of concern. It was focused on collaboration between the Christie Centre and allied health professionals including a speech pathologist, occupational therapists and exercise physiologists.
The project aimed to reduce the occurrences of behaviours of concern and to improve the quality of life for individuals with disability by building the capacity of staff and supporting choice and control for participants. The project aimed to fill the assessment and intervention gap that currently exists in the Mildura region and to decrease the use of restrictive behaviour intervention practices to ensure active, positive and person centred support of the individual through meaningful engagement. The project also aimed to build the communication and self-advocacy skills of people with disability and to develop a holistic person centred intervention model that can be easily replicated in other support services.
The project worked with existing and newly recruited disability support staff. In collaborate with SuniTAFE, an orientation and induction package was developed to be delivered on site. The targeted qualifications and skill set of the workforce will support the participants ‘Actively, Positively and Holistically’. Linking in with other organisations and professionals to build the capacity of staff and participants in the area of self-advocacy and self-regulation will be fundamental to the holistic support process.
An initial challenge was ensuring that staff understand the importance of recording outcomes and information. The introduction of a referral document helped with the recording of information important to measure the effectiveness of interventions and supports provided.
The ‘How Best to Support Me’ document, a holistic plan created by the Christie Centre, has replaced the need for numerous other documents. This plan was undertaken for all the participants in the program and provided information that a support worker requires to understand how to communicate, engage and support the person with disability.
Individual and peer supervision was critical to assisting staff in their role to provide better support and manage any participant’s behaviours of concern.
Opportunities for broader collaboration occurred, including innovative delivery on site of an orientation and induction package delivered by SuniTAFE.
The inclusion of ZERO TOLERANCE as a mandatory training module and the move to a self-managing team platform and circular management saw an increase in the positive and active engagement of both participants and staff.
The NDIS has not rolled out in the Mildura region. Due to being located on state borders, the Christie Centre currently has 12 participants transitioned to the NDIS. This provides an opportunity to test some assumptions and identify if there are major challenges in providing supports as identified in plans.
The Christie Centre is a primary support organisation for five social enterprises and four independent living, work ready and skill development branches. The opportunities, quality and types of support provided by the Christie Centre has led to an increase in participants, causing an immediate need to recruit and train more staff. This in itself is a challenge at present.
Change management is always a risk as the process of change itself has roadblocks (e.g., money, resources, internal and external factors).
Time is always a risk factor – other ‘things’ pop up and divert attention, causing interruptions and delays. The introduction of the stand-up meetings has been a risk in the way of introducing ‘new’ and ‘different’. However, the quick morning stand-up meetings have proven to be useful and help with planning and managing daily interruptions.