I strongly believe that there is no greater tool that can drive quality and improvement in the sector more, than collaboration. At CMG, we have always placed great importance on fostering a collaborative approach to support provision, taking in the strategies, vision and differing experiences of the experts that surround us.
In the last year, we have taken this collaborative and best practice sharing approach to the next level. In October 2018, we officially launched two new Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) initiatives, in conjunction with a number of other support providers, family carers and Surrey County Council, in what was a first for the sector.
PBS has long been recognised as an effective way for supporting people with learning disabilities and/or autism who can present complex behaviours which challenge. It is essentially a framework used to gain a detailed understanding of an individual – their skills, behaviour, and health needs. The key elements of a PBS approach are to develop new skills and opportunities which help to enhance quality of life, build self-esteem, and provide alternatives to behaviours that may be considered challenging.
The Surrey Positive Behaviour Support Network (SPBSN) was first established in 2014, with the mission of bringing together members of the Surrey community to discuss, learn, and share, culminating in the implementation of a PBS Framework. With the network comprising of over 200 people, including people with learning disabilities/autism and their families, academics, and support practitioners and professionals, it marked the launch of a truly diverse and collective approach to care.
In 2016, the Network began partnering with adult social services to influence the understanding and development of residential and supported living services across the county, progressing the Transforming Care Agenda. We wanted to ensure that there was confidence in the region’s ability to effectively support some of its most vulnerable people – particularly when the level of support they require and deserve has not always been delivered. It was also important to address concerns around future support for people with learning disabilities and/or autism, and challenging behaviour.
To address this, and to drive high standards across the learning disability sector, the PBS Quality Experience Tool (QET) and the Surrey based PBS coaches programme was born. The QET is a values-led measurement of an individual’s experience of PBS within a residential or supported living service. It is based on six core outcomes for the individual, including staff support; environment; involvement of family and friends; progression; opportunities and the understanding of behaviour. The QET is more than a tool – it is a quality pathway for the entire county.
The Surrey PBS Coaches Programme was launched to combat what has historically been a lack of PBS training at an advanced level nationally. The courses that are available are typically expensive and are often unachievable for small providers, or larger providers with high rates of staff turnover. Workforce development is critical in progressing the Transforming Care Agenda, particularly in a county like Surrey, where recruitment and housing are the main challenges in providing new services for individuals with more complex needs.
The Surrey PBS Coaches Programme, developed with input from 6 organisations, was created in response to the national Agenda. It comprises an intensive 8-month course, with 64 hours of teaching and an additional 100 hours of work-based assessment. It offers a training opportunity that both values and nurtures the talents, passions and skills of support staff across the country.
The overarching aim is to generate a group of people every year that can lead practice in their services, develop and review support guidelines, implement PBS plans and utilise data-based evidencing for behavioural support.
These two initiatives, developed in collaboration with both the people who use the services, and those who work tirelessly to deliver the high-quality care, are already demonstrating clear signs of success. There are real lessons to be learnt for the sector in the value of collaboration, bringing together the voices, skills and experiences of the people who matter most. It is this approach that will be the driving force in responding to the challenges and opportunities of our sector, alongside transforming care delivering across an entire county and beyond.