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