Providing care and support to vulnerable children, adults and the elderly can be at once a highly rewarding and a highly demanding undertaking. This statement is no more true than when made in the context of responding to challenging behaviour. Responding to challenging behaviour is a highly sensitive and skilled task that has seen remarkable developments over recent years, including the proliferations of positive behavioural support techniques. But we have also poor practice permeate cultures, as well as interventions made that are criminal in nature and amount to negligence. Look no further than the recent Winterbourne View scandal. 

So where does it all go wrong? It could be argued that the way in which the drive to respond to challenging behaviour is contextualised can compromise the integrity of the subsequent interventions. A good case in point is the use of Health & Safety legislation to shape the development of a healthy and safe working environment. Within the context of Health & Safety legislation, specifically the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regs 1999, the focus of an organisation, and by extension the individuals within the organisation, is to ‘manage reasonably foreseeable risks’ and to ‘eliminate any identified hazard’.

This is problematic for a number of reasons. Primarily because it reduces the response to any episode of challenging behaviour to that of a problem that is required to be solved; a cost to be avoided and an inconvenience that interferes with the profitable running of a business to be removed. It reduces a hugely complex task to the simple ticking of a box when the risk is eventually ‘controlled’. From this standpoint the bureaucratisation of risk management removes the essential humanity from the process of caring, relegates support to something that is optional and can be withdrawn or forgotten in event of crisis. This in turn re-enforces the medical model of disability wherein the disabled person is seen as needing a curative or corrective intervention. This perspective also justifies the assertion that ‘people’ presenting with some form of ‘deviant’ behaviour should in some way controlled; restrained, contained and even annexed from society in the best interests of safety.

Such a stigmatising, disempowering and reductive approach prevails for a number of reasons. We live in a binary world where everything is right or wrong, good or bad and people either pass or fail. We also find ourselves in a land where the rule of law prevails. To fail to observe the law, or to abide by the rules is to incur a penalty or punishment in the form of a prosecution, fine, criminal record and even the requirement to recompense the wronged party if you are to blame. Where theres blame there’s a claim is the clarion cry from adverts which pervade our lives. The world of care has for all the right reasons has become a tightly regulated sector, but in turn has turned the idyllic view into a legal landscape littered with hurdles to be cleared and inspectors to satisfy. The Health and Safety at work Act an example of just one of the prevailing statues that litters the landscape and is eschews penalties for failure up to and including an unlimited fine and two years in prison.

Under Health and Safety at Work Regulations a service users behaviour, or what is otherwise referred to as ‘incident’ or a ‘Dangerous Occurrence’ is reduced to data. Such events are to be recorded reported and ultimately eliminated or reduced in frequency. Training and safe systems of work are the answer according to Reg 4. Training based on the popular risk management model whereby in the face of perceived danger the staff member’s interests take precedence and legitimises action to restore their safety, also objectifies risk. Such a mechanistic de-contextualised model pervades in those systems cascaded by training organisations that serve the security and criminal justice training markets, it’s also one that pervades ‘personal safety’ and self-defence training programmes.

The Management of Health and Safety at work Regs doesn’t recognise challenging behaviour per se. It does on the other hand acknowledge ‘violence’ as a hazard or example of hazardous behaviour.  A lay persons appraisal of events, and subsequent response, at least on an emotional level is likely to be shaped at least in part by all these factors. The perspective of new or novice members of staff wherein ‘assault’ and ‘violence’ are criminal concepts could conceivably be ones where any such behaviour is instinctively disapproved of, and automatically legitimises actions to ‘make right’ or ‘restore justice’. If they still weren’t sure they have only to look in the press to see how the media portrays any behaviour presenting outside of the idealised norm as ‘aberrant’ or ‘deviant’.

SecuriCare see the provision of care as the on-going process of finding and maintaining the correct balance of support which meets a person’s unique physical, psychological, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Challenging behaviour occurs when the balance is temporarily out kilter. This places the onus on the organisation and the individuals within it to restore the appropriate balance. Recognition of the shortfall in provision is what is being communicated through the behaviour and in order to meet the persons unmet needs urgent, compassionate and intelligent action is required.

At SecuriCare our main drive is to enhance the quality of the care and develop ‘empathy through understanding’. The SecuriCare approach involves placing the service user at the centre of the care planning and contingency planning process. We advocate the development of supportive, nurturing and sensitive cultures through ongoing service user consultation, the development of positive working practices, active and regular supervision as well as first class training.

Our new training and development pathway include a number of tailored levels (which can be delivered online, in the classroom or via a blended approach) with an emphasis on developing a deep understanding of the service user’s needs.  SecuriCare have a number of extremely skilled and experience Mental Health and Learning Disabilities nurses developing and facilitating all of our programmes, and also ensure they are based on the latest evidence based practice.

  • SecuriCare clinical skills courses are designed to familiarise people with exactly what a specific diagnosis means to the individual (e.g. Learning Disability, Mental Health Difficulties, Dementia)..
  • SecuriCare additional ‘Support’ modules provide staff with the knowledge and skills needed to provide truly person centred support.
  • Those services encountering challenging behaviour can then bolt on a bespoke (condition specific) challenging behaviour module. Once again this is available online or in a blended format. As with all classroom based sessions it allows a skilled facilitator to address local issues and challenges.
  • Finally those services where physical intervention is required can opt for a final physical intervention module. The focus here is on physical intervention prevention and reduction, but in those services where it is necessary SecuriCare are able to develop bespoke programmes. Organisations have the option of an online preparatory element covering all the relevant theory and then service specific skills are covered in the classroom thereafter. As a member of the BILD PI Accreditation Scheme we are fully in line with the latest code of practice.
  • In addition to this organic, organisation specific competency pathway SecuriCare are also able to develop client specific ‘behavioural support plans’ as well as ‘person centred physical intervention strategies’ based on consultation and multidisciplinary input.
  • SecuriCare are also about to launch a tailored ‘video skills library’

SecuriCare pride themselves in having an extremely experienced clinical team on hand to provide training and consultancy support. To discover how we can help you, just get in touch: T: 01904 492 442 or E: trainers@securicare.com . Or visit our website: www.securicare.com