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Positive Behaviour Support during challenging times

Many months into the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been reflecting on the incredible resilience of the people I work with at Brandon. In my role as Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) Advanced Practitioner, I have daily contact with multiple Brandon support teams, as well as hearing about their work from other members of the PBS team. The dedication of the people providing direct support, and the incredible response of people we support to the most difficult of situations, has been nothing short of inspirational.

A challenging year

Help, support, advice, guidance signpostThis year has been challenging for us all, including those with a learning disability and/or autism. We are all struggling to understand how and why things have changed and are doing our best to adjust to this new way of living. However, for people we support, there can be additional challenges. They may struggle to fully understand why things have changed and what is expected of them. For example, why they can no longer visit their favourite coffee shop for a natter with their friends or why their weekly trip to the football suddenly stopped. Or even why their housemate can see their parents, but they cannot see their brother because he is shielding. These are complex issues that anyone would find difficult to comprehend, and can be even more difficult if you have a learning disability or autism.

Empathy and perspective

Sometimes, people we support can express their confusion and frustration with the current situation through their behaviour, perhaps by withdrawing from their support, or hurting themselves or others. This is usually where the PBS team becomes involved to help work out how to support the person through this difficult time. In working with teams, I have been struck by the empathy of our staff in seeing the situation from the perspective of the person they support. They have recognised that the person's behaviour makes sense given what is happening, but also want to help reduce their distress.

"I feel proud..."

Over the last few months, the PBS team has in some ways, tried to carry on as 'usual'. For us, this is working with teams to complete functional assessments (to understand why a behaviour is happening), and developing behaviour support plans to ensure a person's needs are met. Yet, at times I have felt that there is no simple solution – there is a reality to the situation we all find ourselves in. It makes sense that if we are struggling, so will the people we support. However, I do feel that what the PBS team provides is someone for our staff teams to call, to talk through the issues with, to problem-solve, and to check we are doing everything we can for the people we support.

For all of these reasons, I feel proud to work for Brandon and to witness the incredible way people we support and the staff who support them, are responding to COVID-19.

Natasha Woodstoke
Advanced Practitioner - Positive Behaviour Support

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