As part of an educational series on Positive Behaviour Support, we chat to Bridie Telford, our Positive Behaviour Support Lead and expert. Bridie has over 9 years’ experience working in the disability sector, and is responsible for building a team of highly skilled, caring and dedicated Behaviour Support Practitioners who approach their work with compassion and an open mind, helping people with disabilities to live a better quality of life with less restrictions. In this post she helps to explain restrictive practices.

 What are restrictive practices?

Restrictive practices are any interventions or practices that restrict the rights or freedom of movement of a person. They’re used in response to a behaviour of concern and should always be considered as a last resort. Sadly, they are being used to manage the behaviour of people with disabilities, and can be extremely distressing for the person. Our highly trained team of Behaviour Support practitioners are committed to reducing and eliminating the use of restrictive practices, so that the person’s dignity and independence is regained, and quality of life is improved.

Under the NDIS, certain restrictive practices are regulated, which means they must be authorised by the State or Territory in which the person lives and monitored/ reported to the NDIS Commission of Quality and Safeguards. Restrictive practices include chemical, physical, environmental, and mechanical restraints, and seclusion.

Unfortunately, according to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission Annual Report 2020–2021 there was an increase in unauthorised restrictive practices from approximately 300,000 in 2019-2020 to over 1 million in the last financial year.

“While it’s encouraging that more providers are reporting these incidents and we’re getting an idea of the problems we’re facing, these 1 million unauthorised responses could’ve had detrimental impacts on the person living with a disability and their supports. They can be extremely distressing for the person and impact their dignity and independence. There is a better way.”

“The more I work in the field, the more I see differing understandings of the word behaviour. Whilst I acknowledge that engaging in behaviours of concern can be dangerous for the person and those around them at that time, we must remember that behaviours are often very functional. That is, they’re communicating a need or unmet need. I’d like us to stop seeing behaviours at the surface level and instead explore the why. Reflect by diving deeper and the reasons will be found. This can take time.”

What does the Everyday Independence Behaviour Support team do to reduce or eliminate restrictive practices?  

We think differently about behaviours and take a person-centred approach to reveal why and when these behaviours occur, and how and why restrictive practices are used. This, along with good access to healthcare enables us to provide individualised support that builds the person’s skills and confidence enough to reduce the use of these behaviours, and therefore restrictions.

We collaborate with participants and their trusted support team to ensure we’re all working towards a unified purpose, with a focus on building their capacity as well as their supports’. Taking this individualised approach has proven to improve quality of life and reduce or eliminate the use of restrictive interventions for many of our participants.

We’ll create a Positive Behaviour Support Plan that outlines strategies to reduce the need for restrictive practices or to have them authorised, so that the person can feel supported and have a proactive plan to fade this out. The plan also includes methods to keep everyone safe, and we actively help everyone involved to understand how to use it in their everyday, to build on skills, autonomy, and a better quality of life.

Thank you for the opportunity to let me share my experience and opinions in this educational series. The next blog in this series will explore why certain behaviours of concern occur.

Need more information?

If you know someone who needs behaviour support services, please contact our friendly team on 1300 179 131 Monday – Friday from 8 am – 6 pm to discuss their needs and goals. If they’re ready to get started, you can complete an online enquiry form.