Behavior Management Plan – is the one you have been given any good!!

The NDIS Has Done A Study On The Impact Of Behaviour Practitioners Plans – I Hope They Aren’t Surprised By The Results.


We work with some absolutely fantastic Behavior Support Practitioners and they are worth their weight in gold. They know people well and they do work that ends up with people moving past some very difficult times. Some other Practitioners we work with are not so crash hot.

The difference in quality should not surprise anyone.  The NDIS opened the flood gates and thousands  of Behavioural Practitioner and therapy hours, many from people and organisations who previously had little or no interest or experience in disability , flowed through them. Trying to ensure quality across the board would be hard for anyone. Even so you may be surprised at what a report into the quality of Behavior Support Plans funded by the NDIS found.

You know those behavior support plan practitioners  who charge up to $214 an hour to solve some issues with you- when their actual work was assessed,  the results are not encouraging.

The NDIS Commission  classified the quality of Behaviour Support Plans (2744 of them form across Australia)  into 4 performance categories, Weak or Underdeveloped ( I think we can classify these two as not very good or useful,) Good and Superior.

These 4 performance items were measured against a Behavior Plans likely capacity to bring about positive change for a person and whether the plan represented  best practice.

What Did the NDIS Commission Study Find

  • Across Australia only 19.7% of the Behavior Support  Plans were considered  good or superior in quality  ( that’s 16.4% Good and 3.3% Superior)
  • 51.6% of plans were considered Weak and 28.7% of plans were underdeveloped or, 80.3% of Behaviour Support Plans  plans were not good enough.

Given the amount of money and need  these plans represent across Australia this is pretty outrageous and disappointing.

But you may not  want to be worrying about the value for money and needs across all of Australia. I am sure the NDIS and others are worried enough. You really just need to be worried about the support you are getting and that when a Behavioural Practitioner, or other therapist, comes into your life that they are adding the value they should.

None of us is perfect, all services, including us,  get things wrong,  but these figures are definitely something to worry about and hopefully encourage you, if you haven’t already, to take a closer look at who you are inviting in to help you out with some extremely difficult issues.

The NDIS says that in response to these findings that it is undertaking a series of actions to lift the skills of practitioners and improve the quality of plans. Good on them for that, but it sounds like that is going to take a long time. In the meantime there are some things that you can do that may help to improve your chances of getting a better outcome from their involvement. Most of this happens before you employ them, you are entitled to ask lots of questions and you are entitled to say no, you do not sound focused or experienced enough.                        

Some things you may want to think about when choosing a  Practitioner or Therapist :

Before selecting a practitioner/therapist to help you out here are some of the things you may want to be asking them or things that you may want to think about:

•             Ask about what specific experience they have in dealing with the sorts of issues that your son or daughter is trying to deal with.

•             A lot of therapists start off being generalists.  Ask them what specialist knowledge, if any, they have in the area that you’re asking them for support in. It’s helpful to know they have a longer term interest and have specifically studied the things that are important to you.

•             Ask  about how they are staying current and applying current best practice.  We come across therapists (as the report did) who are using language and references that are old and don’t represent current practice. Are they having regular training etc.

•             Some therapists reports are all over the place and are hard to use.  Ask the  therapist if they can provide you with a de-identified report they have done previously.  You may or may not be in a position to interpret all the information but  you should be able to understand it, you should  be able to see that the therapist has learnt about the person and their issues and has provided sensible responses. Most importantly see that there are clear and functional outcomes that can be understood and implemented by you and others.

•             Talk to them about the sorts of things they would think about, or have put in place in the past,  to prevent or reduce restrictive practices rather than introduce them.

•             It is likely that you will want your therapist to be providing training to direct support staff so talk to them about their experience and availability to do this training.

•             Especially with behaviour therapists, but others as well, talk to them about what their process is. When asked this question, the best therapists we know will say they need to know who the person is, and will want to take some time to build a relationship and get to  know them  before starting to fill in forms.

  •         Check out how well the Behaviour Practitioner plays with others. They should definitely want to know about other people who are important in your child’s life and want to hear and engage with them at some level – but don’t forget other therapists that you may employ, especially Occupational Therapists. Often Behaviour Practitioners and OT’s can be thinking about similar parts of your child’s life – this can be a problem when can end up with two 30 page reports responding to the same issues that tell you different things. It can be a good idea to spend some of your funds, where you have different therapists working on issues to have them spend some time talking together, with you, to get the best thinking. This may be easier if you are using different types of therapists  from one company, its harder if they are from different companies, but the good ones will be happy to work as part of a team.

•             Be careful of large companies. If you know a specific therapist or have been recommended one who works for a large company, then you of course should approach them. Be careful of just knocking on the door a large therapy provider, or a company that has grown very quickly,  and asking for help. The range of supports we have experienced  with these companies ranges from fantastic to absolute rubbish with some mediocre in-between.  (The quality of the practitioner in large companies, depends on individual people, not the company itself). We usually are finding two things with  big companies and those that grow very rapidly:

    • They don’t seem to have real intake processes where they measure your needs against their capacity or ability to meet your needs. You will phone them up and as long as they have someone with free hours they can allocate to you they will say yes we can help without really assessing your needs.  This presumes that simply because they are registered they can respond to every sort of issue. That’s not a reasonable view to take, for example sensory issues that cause severe meltdowns are very different to complex sexuality issues, and need different skills to respond to. We work with lots of Partitioners who when approached will say I can’t do that specific type of work and refer to someone else.
    • Because they are trying to keep up with demand  these companies often employ a lot of young and inexperienced therapists who are not very effective at what they do. Nothing wrong with being young and experienced but when you have limited funds to spend to achieve a really important outcome, and you are paying up to $214  an hour you should expect experience, skills and knowledge. The most refunds we have supported people to get from practitioners and therapists is related to the work of inexperienced practitioners who have failed to perform. If you are going to use a younger less experienced person the least you could do is check on their level of supervision and mentoring they have available to them.
  •        Get recommendations from people you know and trust.

 To view the NDIS report of its findings into the quality of Behavior Management Plans copy and paste the link below into your internet browser: