Adaptations for Behaviours that Challenge guide image

Foundations, the national body for Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs), has published new guidance which calls for a better understanding of the needs of people with autism and/or learning disabilities in housing adaptations and the system-wide cost benefits.

Entitled ‘A guide to adaptations for children and young people with behaviours that challenge’, the document is intended to give advice to local authorities and HIAs dealing with requests for adaptations for people with behaviours that challenge by providing guidance to staff carrying out assessments and determining applications for funding.

Foundations says the guide is also helpful for occupational therapists (OTs) working with young people with behaviours that challenge whose home may need to be adapted, along with families and carers.

The guide includes case studies and examples of good practice in order to support the effective use of the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) and the discretionary housing assistance policies.

In the document, “behaviours that challenge” refers to behaviours that are challenging to services, as opposed to the individual being difficult themselves. Behaviours that challenge might include causing harm to others, destructive behaviours, eating inedible objects and more. Common causes of such behaviours could be pain or health reasons, social attention, or in response to sensory overload, for example.

Foundations notes that while the DFG encompasses people with autism and/or learning disabilities, almost 9 out of 10 housing adaptations funded through DFG are for individuals with physical disabilities.

Paul Smith, Director of Foundations, commented: “We’ve seen that very little of the Disabled Facilities Grant budget goes towards autism and behaviours that challenge – we wanted to shine a light and show what is possible.”

The guide says that living in a home that is inappropriate for people with autism and/or severe learning disabilities can give them anxiety or distress as their sensory needs are not being addressed.

Additionally, the document underlines that understanding the reason for behaviours and how to create a safe sensory environment is key to responding to the needs of the individual and providing effective support.

DFG funding can make a big difference to creating appropriate environments for these individuals. This may include adaptations designed to minimise the risk of danger where a disabled person may have behavioural problems which causes them to act in a boisterous or violent manner, damaging the house, themselves and other people.

Other adaptions included under current DFG guidance are provision of specialised lighting and toughened glass, installation of guards around facilities such as fireplaces or radiators, and cladding of exposed surfaces or corners to prevent self-injury.

Ultimately, the guide highlights that effective and creative use of DFG budgets can make a significant impact on the lives of young people with autism/learning disabilities, and their families and carers. By helping to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions, appropriate use of DFG budgets can transform the lives of people with autism/learning disabilities and present significant cost savings for local authorities, Foundations notes.

Read the full guide here 

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