Learn Real Lives

What’s the Message?

Understanding “the message” behind people’s behaviour

Accord Housing Association has introduced a new, innovative training programme to train its care staff on how to better understand the reasoning behind people’s behaviour.

The training is provided bye the organisation’s What’s the Message Team, winners of The Care Trainer Awards at the 2018 Great British Care Awards in the West Midlands. The team has successfully developed a culture that embraces the idea that through understanding behaviour they can better meet the needs of customers before they display challenging behaviours.

The training is accredited by the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD) and is part of the Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) programme.  This training programme has been very well received and Accord team that deliver it won Care Trainer of the Year at the West Midlands Great British Care Awards in 2018.

The training is a two day course and looks at the four functions (or reasons) why people behave in a certain way. These functions are:

    • Tangible – the need or want of something, for example an object.
    • Escape – to avoid an activity, interaction, demand, noise or feeling (for example pain/infection)
    • Social Interaction – to gain attention, either positive or negative
    • Sensory – how it feels, tastes, sounds etc

The training then goes into more depth around other aspects, such as communication and calming techniques, physical intervention and the law; as well as understanding the Crisis Cycle and 70/20/10 approach, which is:

o   70% Baseline Strategies – to manage behaviours proactively

o   20% De-escalation Strategies – to de-escalate a situation following a trigger

o   10% Crisis Strategies – to keep a person and people around them safe

The team’s highly innovative approach uses brain friendly, interactive and fun learning with the removal of jargon, using a VARK approach (visual, audio, reading and kinaesthetic).

Adam Payne, Service Enhancement Manager at Accord

Adam Payne, Service Enhancement Manager at Accord, leads the training and says the response received from staff completing the training has been incredibly positive.

He said: “We make the training fun, enjoyable and as interactive as possible. I find this helps people take everything in, as we don’t want the training to just be us reading from a PowerPoint slide. We spent a lot of time making these sessions educational and interactive, but most of all fun.

“I personally enjoy the use of stories with everyday occurrences to explain how these feelings affect all of us, not just people we support. We look at the four different traits and how that can affect someone’s behaviour.

“This isn’t just for customers, as it can also be used for children, teenagers, and partners. It’s about proactively understanding, and meeting people’s needs before difficult or challenging behaviour arises.”

The team at Accord has now trained around 300 colleagues, plus 25 managers. The passion and enthusiasm of the What’s the Message team is palpable and as a consequence workers are taking this passion back to their services.


Edel Harris





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