Behaviour Support Plans now mandatory for aged care providers

Behaviour Support Plans help dementia aged careDementia Support Australia (DSA) has released a resources toolkit to assist aged care providers meet new behaviour support plan requirements intended to minimise or eliminate need for chemical or other restraint.

From 1 September, Aged Care Act amendments & Quality Care Principles make it mandatory for providers to have Behaviour Support Plans in place whenever there are behavioural changes, or when restraint is imposed or likely to be imposed. This change is for all residents of aged care including those living with dementia with changed behaviours.

DSA, a program funded by the Australian Government and led by HammondCare, provides support where behaviours impact on care. DSA has released a series of guidelines, templates and resources to assist providers with the changes.

DSA Head of Clinical Services A/Prof Stephen Macfarlane said a range of factors can impact the behaviours of a person living with dementia. Restraint, including chemical, environmental, mechanical and physical restraint, and seclusion are not the most effective way of dealing with behaviours and psychological symptoms of dementia.

“The way we behave is influenced by many things: our physical, social, emotional and mental health, our habits our relationships, and changes in the environment,” A/Prof Macfarlane said. “In general, most of us can manage how we respond to the things going on around us, and, if there things we don’t like we can change them.

“However, for many people, different things – illness, cognitive impairment such as dementia, mental health problems and having to live with others – can affect their ability to control what is going on around them, as well as how they respond.”

A/Prof Macfarlane said behaviour may be the only thing people in this powerless situation have left to respond or communicate with – and those behaviours can sometimes feel challenging. “But such behaviours are often the result of distress, a signal that they have an unmet need or that they are in an unwelcome situation."

The requirements are a response to the Aged Care Royal Commission recommendations in its final report. The Royal Commission heard distressing evidence that people living with dementia in residential aged care homes are frequently inappropriately prescribed psychotropic medication or subject to physical restraint.

The amendments to start September 1 provide powers for the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to respond to the inappropriate use of restrictive practices.

A/Prof Macfarlane said psychosocial/non-pharmacological therapies as provided by DSA to aged care providers nationally are the “gold standard” for interventions rather than restraint.

Since 2016, DSA programs have provided rapid, comprehensive and intensive dementia-specific in-reach services to aged care homes to help aged care residents living with dementia.

DSA programs work collaboratively with the person living with dementia and primary caregivers as well as other medical specialists to understand their personal history and surroundings and the impact on their quality of life.

A world-first population study released earlier this year, Evaluating the Clinical Impact of National Dementia Behaviour Support Programs on Neuropsychiatric Outcomes in Australia, confirmed that many – if not all – behaviours and psychological symptom of dementia can be most effectively supported by non-pharmacological interventions.

Access the Behaviour Support Plan resources toolkit