Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Positive behavioural support of people with learning disabilities during the pandemic

Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), a person-centred approach to supporting people with a learning disability, helped many staff develop creative solutions and cope with the negative impact of the Covid-19 restrictions, according to new research.

The study published in the British Journal of Learning Disability looked at whether PBS could still be provided to people with a learning disability during the pandemic and whether it impacted on quality of life.

Researchers surveyed 58 staff, who had recently completed an accredited PBS programme, and asked them to rate the impact of Covid?19 on factors related to PBS. It found that the negative aspects commonly related to restricted activities and social contact of the person being supported. The positive aspects reflected staff creativity in finding solutions and the positive use of the extra time they spent with those they supported.

What is Positive Behaviour Support?

In the past few years Positive Behaviour Support in the UK has developed from a process implemented by a very small but committed group of people to a movement which is now embedded in government policy. It is an understanding of the behaviour of an individual based on an assessment of the social and physical environment in which the behaviour happens.

It also includes the views of the individual and everyone involved, and uses this understanding to develop support that improves the quality of live for the person and others who are involved with them.

Lockdown restrictions during the pandemic impacted significantly on the quality of life of people with a learning disability because many rely on the support of others to help them to access community activities, socialise and structure their day. The main changes were that people with an intellectual disability could not go out or see family and friends as often. Staff came up with new things to do for the people they supported, and PBS learning seemed to help staff to cope.

The researchers added: “Many participants were also able to use their PBS learning to create practical, evidence?based solutions to address the challenges posed by the restrictions. Overall, the results suggest that PBS learning went some way to help the majority of staff cope with the impact of Covid?19 restrictions on their ability to support people with an intellectual disability.”

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