Happy Birthday CBF!

Twenty years ago today, the Challenging Behaviour Foundation (CBF) was founded by Vivien Cooper, a family carer who had become frustrated at the lack of support and information available for families of a person with severe learning disabilities whose behaviours may challenge. From humble beginnings, printing and distributing out of a household garage, the CBF has grown to become a key organisation supporting thousands of families nationwide and influencing and campaigning for policy change at the top levels.

We have seen many changes over the years. With the expose of widespread abuse at Winterbourne View, the spotlight has been increasingly on the appropriateness of inpatient residential units for people with a severe learning disability. Recently we have seen the announcement of Transforming Care and the promised closure of the remaining residential hospitals. The NHS has also recognised the problem of overmedication in people with a severe learning disability with behaviour that may be described as challenging, and reasonable adjustments for health appointments are becoming more and more common. Positive Behavioural Support, the psychological and person-centred approach to understanding and managing challenging behaviour which the CBF has campaigned for and helped teach from the very beginning, has helped thousands of families recognise their loved ones needs, wants and desires, and achieve better outcomes in their lives.

Unfortunately, we haven't reached the end of the story yet and many problems still remain for people with a severe learning disability and their families. There are still thousands of people stuck in inappropriate assessment and treatment units, often miles away from their families, and many healthcare professionals continue to lack knowledge on severe learning disability and positive approaches to managing challenging behaviour. Policy changes have been made with the best of intentions but a concerted and continued effort is required to ensure they are implemented in practice for real families.

We hope the Challenging Behaviour Foundation won't have to celebrate another 20 years. We hope the tide will change quickly and people with learning disabilities will be recognised as individuals with their own interests, hopes, dreams and desires across every setting - and enjoy the same rights as anybody else. But we will exist as long as inequalities continue to exist - until every person with a severe learning disability with behaviour described as challenging is given the life they deserve. We hope you will join us in celebrating our birthday and stay with us to continue to press for change. 

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