A new approach to supporting people with learning disabilities has resulted in a 60% fall in behaviour that challenges, according to randomised control trials.

The approach, dubbed Dimensions Activate, also resulted in considerable increases in meaningful activity, active support and in staff job satisfaction.

The research, conducted by service provider Dimensions in association with the University of Kent’s Tizard Centre and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, and funded by the NHS School for Social Care Research, shows a potential way forward for providers that support people with learning disabilities and autism.

Dimensions Activate improves the quality of social care provided in a personalised way. There are several components to the model:

Support is co-produced and designed in partnership with the people who are being supported, their families, and their support teams

Challenging goals are set in 8 key areas known to affect a person’s quality of life

Support teams help people to achieve their goals using two techniques: Active Support and Positive Behaviour Support. Periodic Service Reviews are a formal tool that are then used to set standards, monitor progress, and provide performance feedback. They help determine if the people being supported are achieving the outcomes they want to, provide the evidence base for continuous improvement and also provide data for commissioners.

Lisa Hopkins, managing director of Dimensions, said: “This was a randomised control trial, one of very few in our sector, and the study was carried out over 2 years in 24 homes supporting one to eight people.

“We implemented a new model of support in the experimental group, and the control group services continued to use Dimensions’ existing model of support.

“Activate is not a quick fix. It will require extensive retraining of all Dimensions support teams, using a mix of practical and classroom based training, together with widespread change to management systems. But as we implement the changes through 2016 and beyond, it will lead to a real step change in the quality of life for the people we support. We hope other organisations will also make use of the publicly available research findings.”

To find out more about Dimensions Activate visit www.dimensions-uk.org/activate