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New app advances person-centred support for people with learning disabilities

A ground-breaking app has been launched that combines the principles of Positive Behavioural (PBS) and Active Support to empower the care and education of people with learning disabilities.

The PBAS app is designed to help people with learning disabilities develop greater independence, benefit from an improved quality of life, and prevent behaviour likely to pose a challenge. This is the first app that provides tools to plan activities, daily tasks and personal routines based around the dual frameworks of Active Support and PBS.

The app is now available following a rigorous four-year development pathway which over the past two years has seen it utilised by select service providers, support teams and service managers to inform and complement their work. This field testing has led to remarkable results, with users reporting a significant streamlining of workloads, higher levels of staff engagement and an improved quality of life for individuals.

The app is designed to improve autonomy, engagement and social interaction for people with learning disabilities while simultaneously helping train staff and provide an easy-to-use method of setting goals and monitoring improvements. Key features that enable it to do all this include:

  • An activity planner to guide life at home and when out and about.
  • Personal scripts and household customs management.
  • Dropdown menus that simplify goal setting.
  • Touchscreen recording to monitor progress against learning outcomes.
  • Rapid automated assessment of behaviour likely to pose a challenge.
  • Graphs, charts and multi-media ‘wow moments’ to provide valuable feedback.
  • The app can be run on a range of portable electronic devices, is optimised for tablets and its functionality is GDPR compliant.

The PBAS app has been designed with the regulatory requirements of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Care Inspectorate Wales (CSIW) in mind. Service providers can utilise the app to evidence that they are employing a person centric approach that meets assessment criteria.

Professor Sandy Toogood, Clinical and Behavioural Support at PBAS, said: “The PBAS app is bringing the support and education of people with learning disabilities into the 21st century – providing a smart, accessible, and highly powerful digital tool that assists care givers and improves outcomes for individuals.

“We created this app after spotting an urgent need for this sort of provision, with many support teams dealing with operational hurdles that are hampering the standard of care they can provide. While they usually have access to care management or administration systems, these lack Active Support or PBS elements and so are not able to support and inform a person-centred approach.

“In contrast, the PBAS app is a holistic system that evolves as required, making it ideal for planning, monitoring, engaging, and reporting. This integrated, multifunctional design also makes it ideal for developing teams and training new members of staff.”

Kathy McLennan, PBAS facilitator for Special Needs Care Ltd, said: “The PBAS app brings solutions to some of the problems that can hold up implementation of Active Support and PBS. Activity planning and participation for both recurring and one-off activities can be done in just a few easy steps. All inputted data is translated into graphs and charts in real time, allowing for timely analysis and decision making. Crucially, the app removes the problem of mountains of paperwork which can often be overlooked or misplaced.

“Behaviours of concern can be assessed using a brief functional assessment, providing an initial hypothesis and starting point for the development of an intervention plan. A person’s achievements can be recorded and supported with multi-media evidence such as photographs and videos. Goal setting is made simple, with the app generating SMART targets and providing a platform to monitor progress against these goals. Additional features such as digital one page profile, daily log recording and administering medication are also supported by the app, meaning that all processes are streamlined in one place.”

As a Behaviour Analyst, Kathy McLennan utilised the PBAS app in a supporting role while working alongside Sarah and her staff team in a supported living home. She described the impact that this had for Sarah and her care: “Over the past 18 months, Sarah’s team have been using the PBAS app to provide a predictable rhythm and routine to her week. This has been done by creating anchor activities and developing scripts that outline how Sarah likes to be supported with her everyday routines.

“The impact on Sarah’s quality of life has been extremely positive and she now enjoys far more ordinary life opportunities. She has far fewer distressing behaviours and shorter and less intense episodes. What’s more, antipsychotic medication previously prescribed as a way of managing her challenges has been gradually reduced and recently, discontinued entirely.”

Andrew Guy, PBS team leader at Gwynedd Adults Learning Disabilities Team Service, said: “As a PBS and Active Support lead, I have found the app beneficial for everyone within the services we have implemented it into. The staff are more skilled, motivated and enthusiastic within their roles, and it seems to have recharged their knowledge and awareness.

“The app’s variety of features has helped to support important Active Support elements, such as total communication, choice, control and autonomy, and increased opportunity. As a result, of all this, the people we support are living more enriched lives and participating in all sorts of activities. The data collected has evidenced an increase in activity and a reduction in behaviours of concern, which has had an improvement in quality of life for everyone.”

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The new PBAS app empowers the care of people with learning disabilities

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