What next?

by Jonathan Beebee

This is a more personal blog than usual. As we approach the end of a year, typically we reflect on what we have achieved this year, and what next for the year to come. I wanted to share some of my personal thoughts here.

I am really proud of what the #pbschat team have achieved. This year the group was awarded a BILD PBS special award for our contribution to the dissemination of PBS. We are using social media to get everyone (family, support workers, professionals, and anyone else) talking together about what PBS is. I genuinely don’t believe this is being achieved anywhere else. We have a great team of admins for the group, and the recent addition of Jen Fookes to our admin team really adds to our dynamics. We all work so well together, with great diversity in our knowledge and experiences. We have some fantastic group members too who bring chats to life. The group has a real sense of community to me. I hope others feel the same.

Sir Stephen Bubb’s report has been published. We are still waiting to hear what NHS England will agree to take forward from this (due around Christmas time I heard). There was a large public yawn as Sir Bubb’s report contained many things that had been said before. Sir Bubb himself said at the start, not only has this been said by Mansell twice but it was said by someone back in 1845!!! But there are some plans worthy of consideration in there, and there is definitely an energy for change. The next 12 months may finally see some action in getting it right for people with learning disabilities.

Part of Sir Bubb’s report included a workforce academy. He didn’t mention PBS, but this was based upon recommendations for a PBS Academy. There is a huge need for this as PBS remains poorly defined, and there are no existing criteria on what PBS should contain, or who is competent in PBS.

If the academy goes forward, its integrity to PBS will be a huge challenge. There are many people/organisations already providing and promoting PBS. But will what they currently provide meet what a PBS Academy says PBS is? Will existing training/courses in PBS meet what a PBS Academy says PBS is? This will be a challenge for the academy if it goes ahead, especially if people with these vested interests are involved in its development and delivery. Maintaining the integrity of the academy will be important to its success and a challenge.

As the idea of an academy has grown some people have said they find my ramblings about PBS challenging as I question existing practices. That isn’t my intention, so what is the function of my challenging behaviour? (probably a mix of gaining attention and sensory reinforcement!) My personal goal is getting it right for people with learning disabilities who have behaviour described as challenging. As you can probably imagine, I think PBS has a key role to play in getting things right, but we must use PBS correctly if it is to make any impact. This is what people with learning disabilities and their families deserve. For my own personal integrity I cannot stand by things I believe to be incorrect.

I want to work in partnership with all who want to take forward PBS. I genuinely applaud the effort and energy that has got us to where we are now. This energy is finally growing. I apologise for any offence caused but I continue to believe that it is right to question, and to empower others to question. There are many people and families who would say that challenges to existing approaches should be welcomed. If the answers are already out there they are not seeing them.

What next for me personally? I have decided to take what feels like a very brave leap of faith into independent consultancy. I want to be able to directly support services that want to provide PBS in their organisations/teams, and I want to provide direct support to individuals helping them to receive PBS and improve their quality of life. I hope this will continue to involve supporting the national work taking forward PBS too. I have started PBS4 as a vehicle to achieve this. If I can help you, or if you can help me please get in touch.

And what next for #pbschat? Here are some ideas:

– I would love to receive guest blogs and post them here. If you want to share your thoughts on anything related to PBS send it to me and I will pop it up here with your name at the top. This will mean the blog becomes a collection of a wide variety of ideas around PBS rather than just my ramblings.

– Branching out. There is an #abachat this month which is very exciting. PBS is ABA, but ABA is much bigger than PBS and this chat will open up opportunities to talk about the wider applications and more technical components of ABA. However, it is also essential people do not see PBS as different from ABA as the science is an essential element to what we do. I am also hoping we can support a #fragilex chat around February. I am very excited at the thought of the #pbschat group being able to collaborate with other groups to mutually raise awareness and work together.

– Raising the profile of important issues. We regularly hear about horrific experiences people and their families have. I would love the group to really get behind some of these issues, raise awareness of them, and support a call for action. I have been talking with a parent about a very important issue I would really like the group to support. I hope to have more news about this soon.

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in our Positive Behaviour Support chats on facebook and twitter and your continued support. Wishing you all a happy Christmas, and lets make 2015 a year that counts!