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Jersey behavioural study to influence UK approach?

15 August 2019

Photograph of Dr Darren Bowring

A Jersey Behaviour Advisor who carried out a four-year study on his service’s work with islanders who have autism, and/or a learning disability says his findings could impact how the UK supports individuals with challenging behaviour.

Dr Darren Bowring, Senior Behaviour Advisor with the Positive Behaviour Support Service, says that the study – the largest of its kind to ever be conducted – showed his team had ‘significantly’ improved the behaviour of most participants. The study was undertaken on nearly 90 islanders who were referred to the service for displaying difficult or challenging behaviour.

Dr Bowring presented his findings, which he collected over four years, at the World Conference of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities which was held in Glasgow last week.

The PBS team, which is part of the Health and Community Services Department, has a staff of three and receives 100 referrals a year.

Dr Bowring said: "The whole approach of Positive Behaviour Support is to understand why people are behaving the way that they are. People with a learning disability or autism are more predisposed to challenging behaviour for a number of reasons such as they may find it difficult to communicate needs, the environments they access may not suit their social or sensory needs or their may be restrictions that prevent a good quality of life.

"We want to understand why challenging behaviour occurs, so we can come up with strategies to address this and promote people to have a better quality of life."

The study of both adults and children revealed that there was a clinically significant improvement to the behaviour of 72% of the participants from working with the team. As well as looking at behavioural changes, the study, which is to be published in the Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, also gauged customer satisfaction. According to the study:

  • 68% of carers said challenging behaviour now "stressed" them less than it did
  • 93% of carers said they were more effective at preventing challenging behaviour from occurring
  • 75% of individuals were now able to communicate their needs more effectively

"It is really exciting." Dr Bowring said. "This is the largest study on a community-based Positive Behaviour Support Service ever done before. It has demonstrated significant behaviour changes and improvements to quality of life from our approach. It will have quite an impact and will showcase the work we are doing in Jersey.

"We are publicising a model that will be more and more common in the UK. Jersey is at the forefront of Positive Behaviour Support."

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