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Behavioural Support Strategies

About Behavioural Support Strategies

Behavioural Support Strategies (BSS) is a Voluntary Organisation. It was created as an independent Scottish entity offering training and support to develop and implement the BSS programme of dealing with challenging behaviour in Scotland.

The need to establish BSS was driven by changes in European and Scottish legislation, e.g. Human Rights Act 1998 and Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001 which required organisations to have recognised systems of accountability in place to ensure quality of provision for people who use services. The BSS approach is an established and recognised method of achieving this for people who, on occasions, may challenge services.

Our training has been accredited by the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD) since 2004. BILD is reassessed every three years. The assessment criteria for accreditation are drawn from the BILD publication ‘BILD Code of Practice for the use and reduction of restrictive physical interventions’, third edition (2010), and all BSS Instructors that we train work in accordance with this Code.

The BSS approach offers a step by step process for crisis intervention and prevention. The BSS programme promotes the Whole Person Approach and aims to provide a framework for the use of proactive support for the management of behaviour that challenges. It emphasises as a very last resort the use of Reactive Strategies and Physical Interventions.

Each person’s needs are assessed to emphasise positive behaviour changes, with staff actively working to support the individual develop new skills and improve self-control.

BSS acknowledges that there are occasions when a Physical Intervention, Safe Hold or Breakaway Technique may need to be employed in order to prevent injury to self or others. To ensure the training of these manoeuvres is safe, consistent and carried out to a high standard, BSS Instructors must follow the strict guidelines which are handed out to them during their training. These interventions are used as a last resort.

All Physical Interventions, Safe Holds and Breakaway Techniques have been biomechanically assessed by The Robert Gordon University Aberdeen, Human Performance Laboratory. The aim of this study was to perform biomechanical analysis and risk assessment of all intervention (restraining) techniques, from the perspective of both the restrainer and restrained.

The BSS programme was developed for service users, their families, carers and direct care staff. Our courses cover training in a wide variety of services supporting people who may challenge the service or themselves. These include services supporting:

  • Residential and Day Services
  • Residential Schools and Education Settings
  • Visiting Support Services
  • Fieldwork and Community Services
  • Services with complex support needs
  • Services with support physical, sensory and learning difficulties
  • Younger adults in Transitional Services
  • Services that support those challenged by autism
  • Mental Health Services
  • Services that support older people and those diagnosed with dementia
  • Clinical Services

BSS can train and support members of your staff team to become Instructors. Instructors can then go on to deliver relevant, appropriate training courses to the wider staff team within your organisation. This essential training can be a very cost effective option. After the initial training is complete, the Instructors we have trained receive on-going advice, support and further training from our team of BSS Instructor Trainers.

We have a variety of courses available to meet the needs of your organisation, your staff and the people who use your services.

The organisations which use the BSS approach are encouraged to adapt the course to the needs of their staff. Only one-third of the duration of a two-day BSS Proactive Course is spent focusing on the training of Physical Interventions, Safe Holds or Breakaway Techniques. The key messages are identification of the triggers for behaviour, recognition of the early signs of agitation, early intervention, calming and de-escalation. There is also a session on the legal aspects of the use of restraint.


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