Behavioural Management Strategies for Complex Care Needs

We wanted to share some effective behavioural management strategies for supporting individuals with complex care needs or behaviours of concern, in order to enhance their well-being and fostering a positive living environment.

Behavioural management involves a comprehensive approach designed to empower people with complex care needs to develop healthy coping mechanisms for emotional regulation and self-control. The primary objective is not to eliminate or suppress behaviours but rather to encourage positive change in behaviours and the development of valuable life skills. This approach ensures that the person’s needs take central stage in their support plan, which empowers them to lead more fulfilling and autonomous lives.

In this article, we will delve into the top behavioural management strategies. These strategies encompass various aspects of behavioural support – from understanding the function of challenging behaviours to proactively addressing behavioural triggers and teaching essential coping skills. By incorporating these techniques, support workers and caregivers can facilitate more positive and meaningful life experiences for their clients.

1. Understanding the Function of Challenging Behaviours

The first step is understanding the underlying reasons behind an individual’s challenging behaviours. Behaviours of concern often serve a specific purpose or function for the person, such as communication, escape, attention-seeking, or sensory stimulation. Through identifying the function of the behaviour, we can tailor their approach to better address the individual’s needs and develop targeted intervention strategies.

Tips for understanding the function of challenging behaviours:

  • Observe the behaviours closely and document relevant details, such as triggers, patterns, and frequency.
  • Consult with other team members, family members, and professionals who interact with the person to gather further insight into their behaviours.
  • Consider potential unmet needs that might contribute to the individual’s behaviours of concern, such as physical discomfort, boredom, or social isolation.


2. Creating a Positive Behaviour Support Plan

A Positive Behaviour Support plan is a personalised, evidence-based approach to supporting an individual that focuses on enhancing their quality of life and reducing the occurrence of challenging behaviours. It typically outlines the person’s specific strengths and needs, as well as proactive and reactive strategies to promote positive behavioural change.


Tips for creating a Positive Behaviour Support plan:

  • Collaborate with the individual, their family members, and other support team members to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the person’s unique needs and preferences.
  • Incorporate proactive strategies that promote positive behaviours, such as teaching new skills, providing opportunities for choice and control, and creating a predictable and supportive environment.
  • Detail reactive strategies for managing challenging behaviours safely and effectively, focusing on de-escalation techniques and minimising the potential for harm.


3. Proactively Addressing Behavioural Triggers

Proactive strategies involve identifying and addressing potential triggers for challenging behaviours before they occur. By anticipating situations that may elicit behaviours of concern, support workers can implement preventatives and adapt the individual’s environment or activities to minimise the likelihood of escalation.

Tips for proactively addressing behavioural triggers:

  • Ensure the person’s daily routine is both structured and flexible, accommodating their needs and preferences.
  • Provide regular opportunities for physical activity, social interaction, and sensory experiences, catering to the individual’s unique interests and abilities.
  • Regularly communicate with the person about upcoming events or changes in their routine, helping to alleviate potential anxiety or distress.

4. Teaching Alternative Coping Skills

Supporting individuals with complex care needs often involves teaching them alternative coping skills and adaptive behaviours that can replace or reduce their reliance on challenging behaviours. This process enables the person to express their needs, wants, or emotions more effectively, promoting greater autonomy and self-regulation.

Tips for teaching alternative coping skills:

  • Utilise evidence-based approaches, such as Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), to teach new skills and reinforce adaptive behaviours.
  • Focus on the person’s strengths and interests when introducing new coping strategies, ensuring that the chosen skills are both practical and enjoyable.
  • Be patient and consistent in your approach, reinforcing positive behaviours and acknowledging the person’s progress and achievements.


Efficient behavioural management strategies can make a significant difference in the lives of individuals with complex care needs, ensuring their well-being and fostering a positive living environment. By implementing these behavioural management strategies, support workers and caregivers can provide the best possible support to individuals with complex care needs, helping them cultivate more positive and meaningful life experiences.


Find out more about quality care service by visiting The Disability Company website or giving their super friendly team a call on 1800 897 848.

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