Amicus Senior Behavioural Specialist Megan Phillips

Everything you need to know about Amicus Behavioural Support Services

Amicus Amicus News, blog

Amicus’ newest service, Behavioural Support, is already having great success helping Victorian’s living with a disability manage behaviours of concern and decrease the use of restrictive practise with an individual approach to assessment, planning and therapy.

Increasing demand for services locally and long metropolitan waitlists, compelled Amicus to introduce Behavioural Support to its expanding suite of services in 2018.

Behavioural Support’s focus on tailored planning and intervention is a perfect fit for Amicus, which has championed the importance of individuality and self-direction in disability support services for many years.

The new service is already achieving some positive outcomes for participants, who through assessment and intervention have been able to develop replacement behaviours and thus decrease the use of behaviours of concern, improve confidence and increase their social participation.

The Behaviour Support Team provide services under Improved Relationships (Specialist Behaviour Intervention and Behaviour Management Plan), as well as Therapeutic Supports, Improved Daily living (Individual counselling and assessment, recommendation, therapy – psychologist).

We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of questions to help you understand what Behavioural Support (Improved Relationships) is and make an informed choice about whether Behavioural Support is appropriate for you or someone you know.

What is Behaviour Support?

Behaviour Support uses a positive behaviour support framework with a strong focus on person centred strategies to reduce the frequency and intensity of challenging behaviour and reduce the use of restrictive practices. This leads to improvement in community interactions and quality of life.

With the support of a highly qualified and experienced team, Behaviour Support participants and their families learn to understand the function of behaviours of concern and put in place skill building for appropriate replacement behaviours and individual strategies relevant to the person’s needs.

The Amicus Behaviour Support Services team (which includes a psychologist) has extensive industry experience using the underlying principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis.

To do this, the team may suggest a variety of approaches, such as:

  • Undertaking a comprehensive functional behaviour assessment
  • Development of a Behaviour Support plan
  • Proving training for staff and carers
  • Completing other individual assessments
  • Counselling

The approaches undertaken by the Behavioural Support team are dependent on the individual’s need and the NDIS plan in place.

What is challenging behaviour?

Behaviours of concern are defined as “any behaviour that is a barrier to a person participating in and contributing to their community (including both active and passive behaviours) that undermines, directly or indirectly, a person’s rights, dignity or quality of life, and poses a risk to the health and safety of a person and those with whom they live and work” (McVilly 2002).

Behaviours of concern can include but are not limited to:

  • Self-harm
  • Aggression
  • Violence
  • Property damage
  • Socially inappropriate behaviour
  • Sexually inappropriate behaviour
  • Interaction with police or the criminal justice system

Behaviours of concern are often misread. In many circumstances, people who engage in behaviours of concern are trying to tell us they feel uncomfortable, they don’t understand, they don’t like something or that something is wrong, and they need help to navigate the situation.

What does Behavioural Support involve?

Positive behaviour support is the term used to describe the integration of the contemporary ideology of disability services provision with the clinical framework of applied behaviour analysis. Positive Behaviour Supports are supported by evidence encompassing strategies and methods that aim to increase the person’s quality of life and reduce challenging behaviour.

Behavioural Support analyse challenging behaviour by completing a functional behaviour assessment which identify triggers, manage symptoms and improve their confidence to be part of the community.

At Amicus, our Behavioural Support Services team works one-on-one with participants and their families to pinpoint the underlying reasons for the behaviours and implement strategies to tackle the conduct in a practical, place-based way.

The practitioner needs to understand the context in which the behaviours occur, the environment participant lives in and their needs, goals and aspirations for a happy and satisfying life to develop effective behaviour change strategies

Functional Assessments

Practitioners firstly need to complete a comprehensive functional behavioural assessment to develop an understanding of the person, their support needs, and the function of the behaviour.

This involves gathering information and data from all relevant sources through interview, assessment and data collection, observation of the person in all settings, analysis of available data and information, and developing a formulation and hypothesis.

During a comprehensive functional assessment, our team may ask the following types of questions:

  • What behaviours is the participant doing?
  • When does this behaviour happen?
  • What happens before and after the act?
  • How did the practice start? Has it developed?
  • What is the participant trying to tell us with their behaviour?
  • How do other people react to the act? Is it impacting the participant’s life?
  • Are their gaps in the participant’s life that might exacerbate the actions?
  • What strategies might work to address the participant’s unmet needs?

From this the practitioner will develop proactive and reactive strategies relevant to the persons needs. Proactive strategies include environmental change, skill building, and short-term change strategies.

The outcome is that this assessment informs the development of a positive behaviour support plan that maximises quality of life, minimises behaviours of concern and reduces the use of restrictive intervention (with a view to elimination of restrictive intervention).

Once the assessment is complete a Behaviour Support Plan is developed.

Behavioural Support Plans

Following a Comprehensive Functional Assessment the practitioner will work with the participant, carers and their family to make detailed Behavioural Support Plan (BSP).

Behaviour support plans articulate intervention strategies that meet the needs of the person. This includes proactive strategies (environmental, skill building, short term change) and reactive strategies.

Behavioural Support Plans often focus on:

  • Support strategies to meet the person’s unmet needs by making positive changes to the person’s environment, leading to less need to engage in challenging behaviour.
  • Managing known triggers to behaviours of concern
  • Recognising early signs the participant’s needs have not been met and responding to the early behaviour before it escalates.
  • Identifying how to respond to the behaviour once it occurs using behavioural management techniques that are safe, use the least restrictive practices possible and helps the participant re-engage in positive behaviour.
  • Other relevant recommendations such as therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, social stories and visual aids.

The best Behavioural Support team in Central Victoria

When it comes to NDIS Behavioural Support Services, Amicus has a well credentialed and experienced Behavioural Support team based in Central Victoria.

Amicus employs a range of Behaviour Support specialists who seek to understand behaviours of concern from multiple perspectives.

Our dedicated Behaviour Support specialists have undertaken additional training (such as Applied Behaviour Analysis) and continuously update their knowledge and skills with regular professional development and learning.

Participants using our Behaviour Support Services have access to a multidisciplinary team that includes a registered psychologist with experience and knowledge of the disability and health sectors, and the local community. Importantly, all Amicus Behavioural Support practitioners are approved to deliver services under the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission.

An NDIS quality and safeguard framework compliant service

Amicus’s Behavioural Support Services are fully compliant with the NDIS Positive Behaviour Support Capability Framework.

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission is committed to developing and implementing a Positive Capability Framework that is consistent with the intent of the law in its behaviour support function.

The capability Framework guides the NDIS Commission’s work on behaviour support capability and is used to consider the suitability of behaviour support practitioners to deliver specialist behaviour support services.

The framework aims to ensure the safeguards for people receiving Behaviour Support and reduce the use of restrictive practices in the management of behaviours of concern.

The framework also establishes clear expectations for practitioners delivering Behaviour Support Services and helps them to move towards a higher standard of practice.

All Amicus Behavioural Support practitioners are approved to deliver services under the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission.

A place-based approach to supporting participants and families

As one of the very few organisations in the region with staff accredited to deliver Behavioural Support Services under the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission, Amicus is well placed to help Victorian’s to combat behaviours of concern.

Based in Bendigo, Amicus can deliver services to people living in regional and rural areas, including Bendigo, Castlemaine and Echuca. We can take referrals for Behaviour Support throughout the Loddon area.

This benefits participants and families because they’re not forced to travel to and from a metropolitan service or use up valuable NDIS funding on paying for practitioners to travel long distances. It should be noted that there are strict guidelines for practitioner travel.

Having a local team also means that participants benefit from our team’s extensive community knowledge and connections within the local health, disability and community sectors.

How to access our Behavioural Support Services

Would you, or someone you know, benefit from Behavioural Support to help manage behaviours of concern?

If you have an existing NDIS plan, you may be eligible to access our Behavioural Support Services if ‘improved relationships’ or ‘improved daily living’ appears on your plan under Capacity Building.

To make a referral contact Amicus’ Senior Behaviour Specialist by email at or telephone (03) 5441 2666.

If you think you could benefit from the service but ‘improved relationships’ doesn’t appear on your plan, we suggest talking to your NDIS planner. They will be able to work with you to determine whether Behavioural Support Services are an appropriate plan inclusion.

If you don’t have a plan, we can also offer a fee for service option to ensure you can get the help you need when you need it.