Person Centred Active Support

Person Centred Active Support

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Person Centred Active Support

Milly actively participates in the household

What is Person Centred Active Support?

Person Centred Active Support – or ‘Active Support’ – is a globally recognised approach to care and support that enables and empowers people with intellectual disability to participate in all areas of their lives. Evidence collated over many years shows that giving people greater control over their daily routines, letting them choose what they want to do and set their own goals, can contribute immensely to their sense of independence, inclusion and self-esteem.

Support workers provide just the right amount of support, customised to each person, to enable a person with disability to take part in personally fulfilling activities and develop new skills and relationships. At Tipping homes, we see every day how giving people greater choice and control can provide a wide range of benefits – from increased engagement and new skills, to better relationships with housemates and fewer challenging behaviours.

How long has The Tipping Foundation promoted Active Support?

As a human rights-based organisation, we always put our clients at the centre of our care, to help them do what they want to do, at their own pace and to the best of their ability. This approach has become more embedded in our service model in recent years, through the rollout of a program of PCAS-based training developed by researchers at the University of Kent in the UK and La Trobe University in Melbourne.

Since 2014, Tipping has delivered both theoretical and practical PCAS training to the coordinators and support workers at each of our 40 residential homes in Victoria. Tipping’s Practice Leaders are also supporting researchers from La Trobe to field-test a number of Active Support practices as part of a global collaboration that provides our staff with access to the latest PCAS information and resources. As well as ongoing training, Practice Leaders provide each of our homes with regular guidance on Active Support processes, staff supervision and team meetings for reflection and experience sharing.

“Staff were observed working with their clients and providing nurturing home environments, whilst providing active support and providing clients with opportunities to make decisions about meals, outings, washing duties, shopping trips and kitchen activities”

– The Tipping Foundation & Victorian Person Centred Services Recertification Assessment Report, August 2017

Is Active Support reserved for people with a severe disability?

Support workers can use Person Centred Active Support with anyone, regardless of their degree of intellectual or physical ability. By providing little amounts of assistance that are carefully matched to an individual’s abilities and preferences, they can help them succeed in doing all or part of a task – with all the rewards of accomplishment and independence this can bring.

As well as promoting new skills and broadening personal experiences, Active Support practices promote health and well-being through physical activity, social interaction through group work and outings, and – above all – a vital sense of belonging and being included as a valuable member of society.

Case study: Stephen, 40, Southeast Victoria

Active support case study with clientStephen* has an acquired brain injury and struggled for years with drug and alcohol addiction before he came to a Tipping home in 2007. Initially, he did not take part in cooking or cleaning, but with verbal prompts staff have been able to support him to tidy his room and cook breakfast or lunch for himself. Given his level of independence, the staff only provide assistance with areas of support that contain risk, such as boiling water or operating the stove. This year, staff reported that Stephen started asking for support rather than waiting for them to prompt him. “For the first time,” says one support worker, “Stephen has started to take pride in how he lives and what he eats.”

Milly does the grocery shopping

What are the four principles of Active Support?

Person Centred Active Support is based on four essential principles which guide our support workers in much of their daily work:

  • Activities are delivered little and often, so residents are not overwhelmed and can take breaks and come back to activities they enjoy.
  • Staff provide graded assistance, or just the right amount and type of support to help a person succeed in a task.
  • Clients receive as much choice and control as possible over the different activities and interactions that make up their day.
  • Active support is based on the premise that every moment has potential for a person to get involved – and to gain a sense of achievement from what they’re doing.

“PCAS has made members of my team understand that we are not there to do everything for the client; we are there to empower them to do as much as they can for themselves. We are mindful to not take away even the smallest task a client can do – even if it means taking extra time to support them”

– Sandra Dorsett, Tipping Home Coordinator

How does Active Support fit into the NDIS?

Maisy cooking in the kitchen

Active Support is closely aligned with the guiding principles of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which aims to support people with disability to play a greater role in the design and delivery of their own care. Rather than the ‘block funding’ of previous years, NDIS provides tailored funds to individuals who choose the supports they need from three funding categories: core supports for daily living, capital investments (e.g. equipment and technology), and capacity-building to help build independence and skills.

The NDIS prioritises helping people with disability to increase their independence, inclusion, and social and economic participation. Participants choose products or services they think they need to meet their specific goals, and then select the most suitable provider to deliver those services. The NDIS thus represents a ‘social model’ of support designed to give greater control to participants and their support networks in an open market. Tipping is working closely with each of our clients to ensure they can optimise the benefits of the NDIS and continue to receive high-quality support on a daily basis to meet the goals they have articulated to NDIS planners.

Is Active Support required by the Victorian Government?

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has stipulated Person Centred Active Support as the required approach for supporting residents of managed residential services in Victoria. The Department also mandates that residential homes must comply with a series of Human Services Standards in order to be eligible to receive government funding. These standards, which aim to simplify quality review processes, are all closely linked to the PCAS philosophy and cover four principal areas:

  • Empowerment: People’s rights are promoted and upheld
  • Access and engagement: People can access transparent, equitable and integrated services
  • Wellbeing: People’s wellbeing and safety are prioritised
  • Participation: People have the right to choice, decision-making and active participation as a valued member of their chosen community.

In our latest DHHS accreditation audit, Tipping homes received positive feedback for our proactive work to incorporate active support across our residential services – from devising goal-oriented plans with clients, to encouraging their decision-making, exploring new skills and experiences, participating in household activities and community outings, and involving clients and their families in all aspects of their assessments and reviews.

Case study: William, 24, Southeast Victoria

Active Support participation with our clientsWhen William* came to a Tipping home three years ago, he was often moody and prone to outbursts of aggression. But he was fortunate to be with a strong and cohesive team of support workers, who have worked hard to engage him in cooperative tasks with his housemates. In a short space of time, William has become an active member of the household, contributing to meal preparation and other daily tasks. His behaviour has improved to such a degree that we are now evaluating more independent living options through NDIS. “Being more active and making decisions for himself has really helped William become more confident and secure, which in turn has led to him being calmer and easier to be around,” says a support worker.

* Names have been changed to protect individual identities.

READ MORE about Active Support in our blog article ‘Getting the Balance Right’