• Blog Post

PBIS Is Here to Stay

Photo: BILD / BILD
From time to time, a methodology or an approach seems to have its moment in the sun, everyone talks about it and it’s the magic bullet, the panacea to solve all ills.

In most cases, it passes and people move on to the next thing. Such is the ephemeral nature of the world we live in. To the uninitiated it might seem that (in the UK and Ireland at least) Positive Behaviour Supports (also known in the UK and Ireland as PBS, and as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports or PBIS in North America) is having that moment. Everyone is talking about it right now, but I think this is more of a sea-change thing than a moment in the sun—it seems that Positive Behavioural Supports are here to stay.

The recent UK Department of Health guidance on reducing the use of restraint [PDF] puts Positive Behavioural Supports at the heart of its suggested approach:

“Evidence has shown that PBS-based approaches can enhance quality of life and also reduce behaviours that challenge, which in turn can lead to a reduction in the use of restrictive interventions.”

So, organisations are really having to look at how they incorporate this into their overall behaviour strategy if they don’t already do so. For me as a non-expert, I see two main strands that organisations have to think about:
  1. What ‘actual’ methodology is used in using PBIS for improving the care of service users. Terms such as Applied Behaviour Analysis and Functional Behaviour get used liberally and in some ways these are the nuts and bolts of PBIS.
  2. How a PBIS approach is embedded within the organisation, ensuring that everyone from the frontline care support worker to the clinical psychologist knows what PBIS means to the organisation, and more importantly what positive outcomes and increased life opportunities it can bring for service users.
I recently attended the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD) international research conference, Defining PBS and Promoting Evidence-Based Responses. As a PBIS outsider I’d say that a lot of the content was aimed at the former strand, with speakers from Australia, North America, and Europe discussing legislative drivers and defining PBIS and other key subjects. For an audience comprising many practitioners, it was all very well received. For me the more interesting sessions were those which focused on the practical implementation and what it means for service users. I particularly enjoyed a session by Brian McClean from Brothers of Charity in Ireland (full disclosure—a long-time customer of ours), who talked with great passion about some of his case studies and how they use PBIS in their daily practice.

For those of you with a social media inclination, I also learn a lot from getting involved with the PBSchat folk—they have frequent Twitter chats which anyone can get involved in on a range of related topics using the hashtag #PBSchat. Even if you’re not available to get involved, I’d heartily recommend you do a search and look through previous conversations.

Of course it’d be remiss of me not to mention that our training programmes all underpin a PBIS approach and that there are a whole range of resources available should you want to find out more, and I encourage you to do so.

I’d love to hear of any success stories you have and are willing/able to share. If you’re really brave I could even host a guest blog post right here for you. Please leave a message below or contact me on Twitter @gormanuk.