Positive behaviour support

Challenging behaviour can arise for different reasons, often personal to the individual.

Positive behavioural support (PBS) is the best way of supporting people who display, or are at risk of displaying, behaviour which challenges services. 

It’s important that social care workers have the right skills and knowledge to support people who might challenge services and we have tools that can help.

What is positive behavioural support?

The foundation of PBS is to understand why an individual exhibits challenging behaviour, and address the issues that trigger the behaviour.

PBS is a way of:

  • understanding behaviours that challenge
  • assessing the broad social and physical context in which the behaviour occurs
  • planning and implementing ways of supporting the person which enhance quality of life for both the person themselves and their carers.

It’s based on the values of recognising each person’s individuality and their human rights, a rejection of aversive and restrictive practices, and an acceptance that behaviours which challenge develop to serve an important function for people.

Evidence shows that prevention and reduction of challenging behaviour happens when there is support which:

  • increases the individual’s quality of life, inclusion and participation
  • defends and supports valued social roles
  • uses principles and procedures from behaviour analysis to assess and support behaviour change and other complementary, evidence-based approaches.

The process of PBS is based on data and analysis, using functional assessment to plan interventions to change and manage behaviour. To put PBS into practice requires:

  • the right values in both individuals and systems
  • meaningful participation from the individuals using the service
  • time to complete the process
  • staff training and good practice management
  • on-going monitoring and evaluation.

The Centre for the Advancement of PBS at BILD have created an animation that gives an overview of PBS and how PBS approaches work in practice when supporting an individual.


The UK PBS competence framework provides a detailed framework of the things that you need to know and the things that you need to do when delivering best practice PBS to persons with intellectual disabilities and behaviours that challenge.

The PBS Academy has also developed Standards for Services which outlines the standards services should meet to delivery high quality support for epople with learning disabilities. 


In conjunction with Imaginarium Seed and in support of the Winterbourne View Joint Improvement Programme, we produced four films to show some of the issues, difficulties and benefits of supporting adults with learning disabilities who can display behaviour that challenges in their communities.




The Positive Behavioural Support and autism training fund was funded by the ‘positive and safe programme’ and established to contribute to the aims of the Transforming Care programme through financial support for:

  • developing ‘skills around the person’
  • interagency / multi agency work at a person centred level
  • providing training in line with PBS competency framework or good autism practice
  • contribution to the discharge (or avoided likely admission) of one or more persons.

The aim of the fund was to:

  • support employers and circles of support at a critical point
  • foster innovation in providing PBS and  Autism skills and knowledge, and skills in delivering training in these topics
  • promote and demonstrate sound approaches within organisations and local systems
  • learn from others and share good practice
  • To promote and explore person-centred, multi agency workforce development.

Download the evaluation report

You can read these case studies to find out more about how organisations used the fund to improve outcomes for people with behaviour that challenges services. 

  • Read how The Lifeways Group used the fund to train staff who support Keith, who has a learning disability, complex autism and related anxiety. They worked with staff to develop a positive behaviour support plan, communication skills and ways they could encourage Keith to engage more. As a result, Keith now leads a more fulfilled life, with reduced levels of anxiety and his behaviour patterns have changed. 
  • Read how The Lifeways Group used the fund to train staff who support Jeremy, who has a severe learning disability, Downs Syndrome and Klinefelter syndrome. They used the fund to improve communication between Jeremy and staff, including developing a video of the Makaton signs that Jeremy uses. As a result, Jeremy accesses the community every day and the number of incidents of behaviour that challenges has decreased. 
  • Read how Wirral Evolutions used the fund to train staff how to better support people with autism and/or behaviour that challenges services. They trained over 100 staff on courses ranging from an 'introduction to positive behavioural support, to 'coaches training'. 

We’re exploring the use of personal workforce budgets to train and develop the workforce (including unpaid carers) to better support individuals with complex and/ or multiple social care and health needs, and we have funding to support this.

A personal workforce budget is an amount of money allocated and spent specifically on developing the skills of the workforce that support an individual who has complex and/ or multiple social care and health needs.

We invite commissioners, funders and providers of social care services to consider how and if they could use this approach with the support of funding from Skills for Care.

Typically the funding can pay for training and development for workers from different organisations from social care and health, and family carers and those working at more than one level.

Read more about what the funding can be used for and apply now. 


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