At Langton Green, each staff member is required to participate in a training program on Positive Behavior Support (PBS), an approach to managing behavior that values each individual and encourages independence. PBS training is required by the DDA for licensed agencies. At Langton Green staff are required to attend PBS training annually.
Julie Shepard, BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst), leads the monthly PBS training sessions at Langton Green. Her attendees typically range from newly hired staff to house managers who have worked at Langton Green for decades. PBS training introduces and reinforces strategies that staff can use to encourage individuals to express their needs and wants with positive behavior.
“Positive Behavior Support aims to teach a person new skills to replace problematic behavior and foster an environment that supports a person’s preferences. Problem behavior can be a barrier to aspects of quality of life, such as building relationships with others, participation in the community, and achieving personal goals.” -Julie Shepard
PBS Encourages Positive Communication
How does PBS improve the quality of life for individuals at Langton Green? The PBS approach empowers staff to teach new skills in a way that a person can be successful in his or her environment. PBS is a collaboration among staff and the individuals they support. It may include a needed change in an individual’s lifestyle or routine, and productive behavioral interventions. The use of positive behavior supports can help individuals become more independent.
“Skills that are intended to replace problem behavior should be adapted to the person’s abilities and strengths. The intention is for a person to be able to use the skill without relying on staff to prompt them, predict –or guess—what the person is communicating,” says Shepard.
“For example, a skill, such as ‘requesting to go for a walk’ should not be dependent on a staff person asking, ‘Do you want to go for a walk?’ Instead, a person needs to independently say ‘walk,’ use sign language, or point to a picture to communicate the desire to go for a walk.”
Langton Green Caretakers Learn New Skills through PBS Training
During the training, Shepard shares case studies, poses questions about potential situations, and encourages staff to share their ideas. Staff have the opportunity to role-play solutions and share insights on best practices. Says Shepard, “The training is very different depending on who is in attendance and the conversations that arise in the group. I try to encourage attendees to participate by giving personal examples —everyone now knows I don’t make my own bed! —and I change the focus of the training to meet the needs of the audience.”
Positive Behavior Supports values each individual and encourages positive communication. “Many people in services rely on a staff person to pay attention to them to access preferred items or activities, “ explains Shepard. “When a staff person is busy or not paying attention, a person may display problem behavior as a way of getting a staff person to pay attention and a way of getting a desired outcome, such as an item or activity.”
“By teaching a better way to communicate— ‘I want [something]’ or ‘pay attention to me,’—a person can access preferred items or activities in a way that minimizes distress and promotes his or her quality of life,” says Shepard. “Staff may be challenged by this approach at first, but by using it consistently, they may encounter less problematic behavior. It does take practice!”