In 2016, Avenues was awarded a Transforming Care grant by NHS England. The grant funded project in Greenwich worked with parents/carers who have children or young people with learning disabilities and/or autism and significant behaviour that challenges living at home. The project aimed to transform care for children and young people through mindfulness, positive behaviour support and active support training for parents.
The project, which ran in March and April 2016, involved five sessions where training was provided to parents/carers in three approaches: mindfulness, positive behaviour support (PBS) and active support. The aim was to develop wellbeing and resilience for families to reduce the risk of the child/young person being moved into residential care or hospital.
The project was aimed at parents/carers who may find it difficult to access services. By equipping them with practical tools and techniques, the programme aimed to educate parents and hopefully enable them to reduce their child/young person’s challenging behaviour at an early stage.
Each session lasted three hours and began with a 90 minute mindfulness session delivered by Chris Gregory and Damien Wells from Avenues, who are experienced mindfulness trainers. The sessions were based on a six week mindfulness programme which is already being delivered to employees across Avenues. The groups included formal mindfulness practices, discussions about how to be more mindful and how to bring mindfulness into parenting.
Following this there were 90 minute PBS and/or active support sessions which were delivered by Sarah Kean and Pippa Woodford, who both provide extensive training and support in these techniques to Avenues employees. Parents/carers learned about how to use active support to engage their child/young person in everyday activities and were taught PBS techniques to help them understand and therefore reduce behaviour that challenges.
The project was evaluated by researchers at the Tizard Centre, University of Kent and their report can be found here. The evaluation of the programme suggests that it was a positive experience for those who took part. The results show that the wellbeing of all participants was improved, behaviour that challenges in their child/ young person had reduced and they felt more positive about the future.
In turn this will hopefully mean that the participants will be better able to cope with and continue to reduce their child/young person’s behaviour that challenges and as such reduce their risk of being moved to a more secure setting.