What puts the positive into Scope’s Positive Behaviour Support team?

The biggest positive in Scope’s Positive Behavior Support (PBS) work is that the team members see the person as a person, and recognise that their actions are behaviours that serve a purpose or communicate a message. It is up to us to work with the person’s care team to find out why the person has a need to utilise behaviours of concern to have their needs met. Once the functions of the behaviour are known, alternative behaviours can be planned and implemented.

The PBS team also places quality of life at the heart of what we do. If you think about it, if you are happy with your life and are able to participate in the activities of your choice, have a stable living situation and your medical needs are met and other important areas of your life are catered for, then you will have an overall sense of wellbeing and therefore, a good quality of life. If you find yourself in this situation you are less likely to feel negative or act out. Therefore, one part of what the team does is to find out about times in the person’s life when they were not displaying behaviours of concern and see how we can support them back to that positive space.

The Scope PBS team is unique in that we are able to draw knowledge and expertise from our multidisciplinary team in areas such as Psychology, Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology in order to assess the person. We gather information from all of the people and organisations involved in the life of the person in order to create an holistic picture of the person. This means not just finding out about the behaviours of concern, but also their likes and dislikes, abilities and strengths, etc. Once again, this is helping us form a positive picture of the person. Part of the research is to ask the support team to complete STAR charts and other scales (these are for another blog!) to assist the PBS team to work out why the behaviours are occurring.Once we know these answers we can teach the person more appropriate ways of getting their needs met.

Historically there was a belief that inappropriate behaviours needed to be punished in order to be stopped. This has been found to be incorrect. Strategies need to address the root cause of the behaviour, not simply deter or suppress it.

These days, it is widely accepted that the best behaviour support happens when the behaviour is not happening at all! Confused? Well, what this means is, we focus on implementing proactive strategies such as extending and improving the person’s current skills, teaching replacement skills, and providing positive reinforcement when the person is engaged in appropriate behaviour, supporting the person to meet their need in a positive way. For the people who make up the support team (family, friends, carers in all environments such as work, school, respite, accommodation, etc.) the idea is to consistently reinforce the appropriate behaviour.

A very important aspect of this approach is consistently using the least restrictive intervention to assist the person to live their life. This is described in the Behaviour Support Plan that is written to summarise all of the prescribed strategies, including how restrictions will be reduced over time.

So, in summary, the positives in Scope’s Positive Behaviour Support are

  • See the person and separate the behaviour
  • Effective support promotes quality of life
  • Strategies need to address the root cause of the behaviour, not simply deter or suppress the behaviour
  • Effective support is non-averse, least restrictive and focuses on building on existing skills whilst teaching new ones
  • Family and support workers are key to addressing behaviours of concern by working together in a consistent way.


If you’re interested in finding out more about Positive Behaviour Support, call our team on 1300 4 72673 or email contact@scopeaust.org.au.