Service user consultation strengthens challenging behaviour strategy


A key component in any strategic service development is the consultation to seek the views of service users. This can prove problematic when consulting with people with learning disabilities, but a group of researchers in Worcestershire set out to do this in preparing a local challenging behaviour strategy

They identified people to be involved in focus groups through talking with advocacy workers and clinical psychologists. The groups met and members commented on helpful and unhelpful service responses to challenging behaviour, opinions of the term “challenging behaviour” itself put forward many ideas about how behaviours might develop.

Findings from the groups suggested that responses by services were important moderators of challenging behaviour. The strategy as it was set out was mostly acceptable to those being consulted, but a number of important issues emerged.

Participants wanted individuals affected by the strategy to be much more involved in its delivery, e.g. through involvement in staff recruitment and in ongoing inspections of services.

Ongoing dialogue about how to achieve flexible and inclusive services and to recruit and keep well-trained staff was suggested as a way to continually improve local services.

A key message to emerge from the consultation, and one that is not surprising  was that the service users consulted wanted staff to understand each individual person, to understand and work with the triggers to their behaviour and to avoid having stock responses to ‘challenging behaviour’.

Challenging behaviour: service user consultation, Fellows, J & Jones, L in
Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities 5, 3, 30-37

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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