How to recognise and deal with challenging behaviour

Behaviour can prove challenging in social care due to a range of factors, such as self-harming issues, emotional stress, and cognitive impairment, amongst others. All of these factors can lead to confusion and frustration for the patient.

According to the NHS website, “A person’s behaviour can be defined as “challenging” if it puts them or those around them (such as their carer) at risk, or leads to a poorer quality of life”.
Knowing how to recognise the level of threat and effectively address challenging behaviour is essential for those working in social care settings.

What do we mean by ‘challenging’?

Challenging behaviour can manifest in many forms. For example, self-harming may include actions such as scratching, head banging, grinding teeth and eye poking. Aggressive behaviours can take the form of scratching, biting, hitting, hair pulling and throwing objects.

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Destructive patterns of behaviour are also commonplace, whereby there may be damage to property or even a lack of awareness in terms of danger from the individual. Sometimes patients might display repetitive movements such as rocking or repetitive speech.

What can you do?

Identifying the root cause is essential in addressing the behaviour effectively. It might be due to biological causes, communication needs, or could be a sign of distress. By recognising such triggers and patterns, social carers can pre-emptively devise strategies to mitigate such behaviour.

A challenging behaviour training course can help those who work in social care to gain a better understanding of how to manage such behaviour constructively. It can also provide them with the tools and skills for understanding the underlying reasons to implement the necessary strategies. Providers such as Tidal Training offer courses which can help to redirect or diffuse difficult and potentially volatile situations.

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There are many ways in which challenging behaviour can be addressed. Knowing how to implement such strategies can give valuable insight to those in social care. Acknowledging the triggers and addressing them proactively can not only help in resolving immediate conflict but also contribute to fostering healthier communication and relationships in the long term.

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