Access to behaviour support services for individuals with a disability, particularly in rural and remote regions of Australia, is significantly impacted by workforce shortages. Telepractice is emerging as a potential solution to expand access to a larger pool of qualified behaviour support practitioners, providing timely, quality, low-cost services for people in rural and remote areas.
The emergence of COVID-19 also established the need for alternative service-design solutions for delivery of behaviour support where individuals were effectively isolated due to public health measures that reduced in-person services – an unprecedented circumstance for people with disability and service providers.
In 2021, the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission funded Aspect to develop a range of resource materials to assist practitioners to conduct positive behaviour support (PBS) via telepractice, or TelePBS, in a safe, competent and effective manner that also meets the PBS Capability Framework and practice standards. These were developed in three phases: a literature and policy review; stakeholder consultation; and development of resources.
Findings from the literature and policy review found a lack of policy documentation or guidelines that related specifically to the delivery of TelePBS. The identified literature also had a strong emphasis on addressing behaviours of concern in children on the autism spectrum using applied behavioural principles. We found a general lack of research measuring generalisation and long-term outcomes for participants. There is a need for further research across a wider range of disabilities and age groups to understand what works, for who and in which context, to ensure the delivery of high-quality telepractice behaviour supports under the NDIS.
Stakeholder consultation included interviews with 25 individuals. This included one individual with a disability, eight caregivers, twelve behaviour support practitioners, two PBS managers and three PBS academic experts. Data were independently analysed by two researchers from the University of Sydney to ensure trustworthiness of the findings.
Data were grouped under five key emerging themes: tailoring and maximising the use of technology; contextual fit; rapport and engagement; creative assessment and planning; and implementation and monitoring through coaching. Implications and recommendations were presented under each theme and resources were developed accordingly.
These participant and practitioner guides, along with findings from the literature and policy review and stakeholder consultation, and a range of videos and podcasts, are available as a full suite of resources on the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission website at www.ndiscommission.gov.au/resources/telepbs