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Summer 2015 Newsletter: The Path to Better Outcomes

 

 

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Chief Executive of the CBF, Vivien Cooper, introduces the summer 2015 edition of our newsletter, Challenge. You can download a PDF of the full newsletter, or click here to read it online using Issuu. 

 

 

Twenty years ago, my son went to a 52 week residential school because there was no local support or service that could meet his needs. Nine years living with his family and attending a local special school had built him a reputation for being extremely difficult to manage, a child with a range of behaviours including disruptive and destructive behaviours, self-injurious behaviours and behaviours such as hair pulling, biting and pinching. We were told that very few children displayed such behaviours, that his needs were exceptional and that we were unrealistic to expect that local support and services could cater for them. Families are still being told this.

 

In the out-of-area specialist 52 week school I was surprised to find that, in contrast to what we had been led to believe, there was in fact a great deal known about challenging behaviour. Instead of viewing the problem as being located within the person, there was a lot of evidence about why the behaviour occurred – and more importantly, what could be done to reduce it. This included working out what purpose the behaviour served for the person (what it “got” them, for example being removed from a noisy room, attention or a favourite possession) as well as teaching the person new skills and alternative ways to get their needs met (for example, being taught how to communicate through learning useful signs, such as “finish”, and learning new practical skills such as waiting).

 

It brought home to me very clearly that the knowledge in itself was not enough – it had to get to all the people who needed to know it, so that it could be used. Over the years, significant funding has gone into research that has resulted in a body of knowledge about supporting children and adults who display challenging behaviour – but much of it has been shared in journals and papers, mainly read by other researchers!  The information needs to be translated into practical terms – “so what does this mean for people’s everyday lives, and how can we make sure that we use it and get it to everyone who will benefit?” There must be a commitment to actively share it – it is the practical application of the information that changes lives, and that is where there is a need for improvement.

 

We need to make it much easier for everyone (families, people with learning disabilities, commissioners, providers and practitioners) to know what to do and how to do it. And that means providing a range of practical information in a range of formats, for a range of stakeholders.

 

This edition of Challenge focusses on sharing and implementing best practice. There is general agreement that the current national learning disability policy, based on rights, independence, choice and inclusion, says the right things. But that policy must be translated into practice – and the current gap between policy and practice is too great. Guidance is an important start, but it is the practical implementation of it that will transform lives and really make a difference.

 

02/07/2015

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