Principles and Practice of Positive Behaviour Support

This twelve-week, accredited course:

  • Addresses the philosophy and values of person centredness
  • Explores the ways in which a person centred approach underpins positive behavioural support strategies that are capable of producing increased quality of life for service users

It has been developed by people with extensive front line experience and is very much practical in focus. It is delivered using a blended learning approach that combines intensive face-to-face workshops with a range of online learning materials.

Who Is This Course For?

The course is aimed at people about to begin a person centred plan with an individual. This includes:

  • Care Worker
  • Health Care Assistant
  • Personal Assistant
  • Family Support Worker
  • Home Support Worker
  • Community Care Worker

At a Glance

  • Audience Care Workers, Health Care & Personal Assistants, Family or Home Support Workers, Community Care Workers
  • FormatBlended
  • Duration12 weeks
  • AwardQQI Level 5 Award – 2 Component Certificates
  • Credits30 (15 per certificate)
  • Fees€450
  • Start DateAutumn 2019

Continue to Application Centre

Participants are likely to have significant experience but may have no formal training or education in the area beyond non-accredited in-service training.

Positive Behaviour Supports
Positive Behaviour Supports
Positive Behaviour Supports

Course Details

Learning Objectives

After successfully completing the course you should be able to:

  • Explain and illustrate by example, how working from a value base and philosophy that is influenced by a person centred approach has a positive impact on people receiving support
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of the concepts of “challenging behaviour” and “inappropriate behaviour”, explain what causes it and describe how it impacts on the person’s wellbeing
  • Adopt the use of people first language in your work practice
  • Describe behaviour in observable, measurable terms
  • Understand the goals, values and strategies of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS)
  • Evaluate typical practices in dealing with “challenging behaviour” and consider how the PBS model fits in with the service provider’s policies
  • Define and discuss the terms “positive reinforcement”, “negative reinforcement”, “antecedent” and “setting events” and recognise examples of these in the daily lives of people with a disability
  • Demonstrate, by the use of an ABC chart, how the components parts of the Antecedent, Behaviour Consequence (ABC) model work together
  • Identify and practice the key skills of a person centred practitioner including acting as an advocate, communicator, recognizer of the capacities and uniqueness of the individual
  • Demonstrate the capacity to be flexible and creative in your role as a person centred practitioner
  • Gather and record information about an individual with a disability that can be used to:
    • Analyse challenging behaviour
    • Develop a support plan


The course is made up of two modules.

Person Centred Focus to Disability

  • The social model and medical model of disability
  • The concept of ‘inclusion’
  • The role definitions and language play in the perceptions of people with disabilities
  • The use of ‘people first language’
  • The positive impact on service delivery when working from a value base and philosophy that reflects a person centred focus.
  • Service users diversity, cultural and ethnic needs while maintaining a professional and respectful relationship
  • Your role as an advocate, mindful of maintaining an equal partnership with the person with disability.
  • The differences between adopting an individualised approach and one that sees individuals with disabilities as a homogenised group
  • The capacities and uniqueness of each individual
  • The essential skills of active listening
  • The importance of a flexible, creative approach

Challenging Behaviour

  • Define the concept ‘challenging behaviour’
  • The difference between inappropriate and challenging behaviour
  • The importance of an objective description of the behaviour
  • The typical strategies used by organisations in supporting people labelled as challenging
  • The internal and external factors that influence behaviour
  • Key terms such as ‘positive reinforcement’, ‘negative reinforcement’, ‘setting events’, ‘antedecent’, ‘consequence’
  • The ABC model and how the approach supports us to observe behaviour
  • The goals and values of the positive behaviour support plan
  • The positive behaviour plan and associated strategies
  • The importance and characteristics of a positive environment


Successful completion of the course is dependent on undertaking a series of assessments. These involve:

  • Completing a practical project that ties together your learning and professional practice
  • Critical reflecting on your role and how the course has changed your perception of it
  • Participating in an online discussion with a learning community made up of fellow practitioners and tutors

Taking the Course

The course uses a ‘blended’ approach which combines online learning, virtual tutorials and face to face workshops.

Our online learning materials are explicitly designed to accommodate the pressures that come with trying to balance work, life and learning. They make it possible to build study time around your work schedule. These are accessible through our learning centre which provides a platform for you to study, collaborate and communicate with your fellow learners. Regular online tutorials will expand your knowledge of the topic and answer any questions you have as you study.

Each workshop focuses on extending your understanding of the subject matter and helping you apply it in your working practice. The one-day session will be led by a subject matter expert who also has extensive experience in providing coaching/training to people working in the human services and non-profit sector.

Positive Behaviour Supports

Discussion, collaboration and the sharing of experiences are actively encouraged in order for the workshop to achieve one of its primary goals:

  • Facilitating the application of knowledge and skills acquired during the course to address real world challenges in a practical and effective manner.

Underpinning all of this is our learning community. This is made up of tutors who have extensive first-line experience, learning support staff who understand the human challenges people can face when attending college and our learners who are defined by their commitment to supporting each other.

We believe this creates a learning experience that is unique to the Open Training College, one that meets the specific requirements of people working in our sector and improves the quality of service our users receive. This is known as the Supported Open Learning Model. You can read more about it here.

The Learning Experience

The Tutor’s View – Virge Connery

Why was the course developed?

It was created to highlight and emphasise the individuality of each service user. Each person with a disability is different. They have unique distinctive abilities, dreams and wishes. It would be unfair to assume that having a certain diagnosis defines a person and their capabilities.

The course aims to draw attention to individual uniqueness and how the supports we provide need to recognise and foster it.

What motivated you to become a tutor in the first place?

I enjoy working in the disability area. I am extremely passionate about behaviour and how our surroundings influence us. I am always very keen to share my experiences and knowledge with others. Furthermore, I feel that you learn a lot from people working in various services and tutoring provides a perfect opportunity for that exchange.

The Student View – Diarmuid O’Donovan, St. Michael’s House, April 2014

Really enjoyed the course. It’s great to get refreshing perspectives on the field and many excellent references. It has given me a new enthusiasm for my work.


Successful participants will obtain two component certificates:

  • Person Centred Focus 5N1728 (15 credits)
  • Challenging Behaviour 5N1706 (15 credits)

These sit on the Major Level 5 Award: Intellectual Disability Practice (5M1761). The component certificates count towards two components out of the eight to be successfully completed for this Level 5 Major Award.

Next Steps

Dates & Duration

The next course starts in Autumn 2019. It runs for 12 weeks.


The course costs €450 to attend.

Booking a Place

Apply by visiting our Online Application Centre.

How Can We Help?

Contact us if you want to know more about the course.

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