For People with Behaviours of Distress (‘Challenging Behaviour’)

People with behaviour that challenges, such as Isabelle, Gillian, Aidan, Alan, Richard or Steve may have a history of repeatedly self-harming, damaging their surroundings, or abusing others verbally or physically. However, we prefer the term ‘behaviour of distress’.

All too often behaviour of distress is cited as a barrier to community inclusion. It is part of a vicious circle that keeps people unnecessarily in secure hospitals, ruining lives.

Our experience is that when someone has the right support in the right home environment, challenging and distressed behaviour can usually be prevented or reduced.

What are behaviour of distress?

If a person’s behaviour puts themselves, or the people around them at risk, or it causes distress to others, this is often defined as challenging behaviour. This can lead to a poorer quality of life and increased support requirements. It can impact a person’s ability to join in everyday activities and lead to restrictions on a person’s life.

Examples of behaviour of distress may include (please note, this list is not exhaustive):

  • Physical aggression
  • Verbal aggression
  • Self-injury
  • Damaging surroundings

What are the causes of behaviours of distress?

At Dimensions, we know that behaviours of distress are invariably a form of communication; it is a way for a person to control their environment when they cannot otherwise communicate their hopes, choices, needs and fears.

Behaviour of distress may occur when;

  • An individual has problems understanding what is happening around them
  • A person cannot communicate what they want or need
  • A person is reacting to anxiety and stress
  • A person is overwhelmed by sensory input
  • An individual’s underlying medical conditions are causing distress
  • A person is distressed by a specific situation

Skilled, personalised support can help a person avoid the need to behave in a challenging way. The first step is always acknowledging that behaviours of distress are a symptom of something else not being well.

Support for behaviours of distress

At Dimensions, our support teams are trained to understand and meet the needs of the individual they support by creating a support plan which is co-produced with family members or people they trust.

The members of our Positive Behaviour Support team specialise in understanding the roots of behaviours of distress and helping individuals make structured changes to their environment. For example, their staff, housing, what they eat, what they wear or what they do.

As well as this, the team use teaching techniques to teach the individual what to do when they encounter a challenging behaviour trigger.

As people gain greater choice and control over their life, their behaviour of distress usually drops away. We have many examples of people who we have supported whose needs have dropped from multiple ratio staffing to just a few hours a week, enabling budgets to be redirected into getting more out of life.

Our behaviour support team uses sophisticated behavioural skills teaching techniques to teach the individual what to do when they encounter a challenging behaviour trigger.

To find out more about our support for people with challenging behaviour near you, click the button below:

What can I expect from behaviour of distress support?

We understand that the support needs to be tailored to every person individually, and we take a person-centred approach to all we do at Dimensions.

Primarily, you can expect us to focus on finding the roots of that behaviour of distress, developing tailored support plans with positive behaviour support approaches.

You can read real-life stories of the people we support, like Richard and Paul, to give you a better understanding of the outcomes of our support for people who display behaviours of distress.

Are there referral services available to support individuals with behaviours of distress?

Depending on where you live, referral services to support people with behaviours of distress may be available. Use the find local support feature on our site or get in touch to find out more.

What additional help and resources are available for those displaying challenging behaviour?

As well as the NHS, a number of charities and organisations provide advice and support for people who display behaviours of distress. Take a look at some resources below.

This NHS guide covers the many aspects of help from social services and charities

Mencap’s Learning Disability Helpline is a free helpline service offering advice and support for people with a learning disability, and their families and carers

National Autistic Society offers support and advice for parents and carers of autistic children, including support to develop a greater understanding of their child’s needs and accessing services that meet the family’s needs.

Further reading and external resources

Need to find out more about our services near you for supporting people who display behaviours of distress? Click the button below: