When a team supporting someone does not follow an agreed plan it can be frustrating, confusing and at times worrying. This can happen whether you are working in adult supported living, residential services, a school setting or in children’s residential services. It’s easy for both the person who is responsible for getting plans into place and the staff teams tasked with implementation to get into the ‘blame game’, with both sides blaming the other for failure. Want to avoid this situation? Consider these three action points;
- Do the team understand why the plan has been formulated? Key to getting the team on board with a plan is ownership. If the team feel that the plan has been decided by others and they don’t understand or agree with the rationale, it’s likely that the plan won’t get implemented consistently by the whole team.
Solution– Make sure the team understand the assessment that you’ve completed and the functions of the behaviours. Even if you are implementing an approach such as active support which doesn’t necessitate a functional assessment the team still need to understand the rationale. Make sure that as many people in the team, family and the focus person themselves, if possible, is involved in designing and agreeing the plans for intervention, with your support and guidance.
- Do the team know how to implement the plan? Once the plan is agreed the first step is to ensure the specifics are clearly defined, so that any two people reading the plan will both do the same thing. If not, this could start the path to failure.
Solution – Ensure that everyone expected to implement the plan is given support in the form of coaching, observation and feedback. Providing a written plan alone, even with a verbal read through and questions, is usually not enough to ensure staff successfully follow a plan. It’s important here that your presence is seen as supportive and not critical or judgemental. You might also discover that there is lack of clarity in what you’ve agreed people should do, or that it’s not practical. Working with people to trouble shoot these issues is important.
- Are the team getting enough feedback about how the plan is working? This last point is key to the continued implementation of a successful plan and your ability to evaluate the plan in place. It’s unusual for behavioural interventions – where we are changing antecedent contexts and teaching new skills – to result in big changes in a short space of time. When support is spread across a number of people in a team, their ability to see incremental change is diminished.
Solution – Ensure that the team understands the need to record the outcomes of their approach, so that both you and they can see if it is working. This includes recording their own behaviour and that of the person they are supporting. The information needs to be graphed as this is the only way you and the team will be able to see incremental change, this can’t be achieved by looking at a set of numbers or ticked boxes.
It’s easy to write up a plan and pass it over to a team with just a chat. It’s harder to do all the above and it takes more time. However, it increases your chances of success and making a difference in the life of the person this is all about, if you’ve agreed in the right plan.
© Redstone PBS 2017
Does your team ‘own’ the plan, are they supported to deliver it, and can they see that its working over time? If not, try these suggestions out.
Author- Kate Strutt Director of Redstone PBS and clinical psychologist with over 19 years’ experience of working in intellectual disability and autism services, both within statutory services and the independent sector. Kate is a member of the British Psychological Society and is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council. Bsc Psychology, D.Clin Psyc, PG Certificate Applied Behaviour Analysis.
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