SCIE media statement

Challenging behaviour - Family carers: Getting the right support for adults, teenagers and children

09 March 2011

Three new briefings are published today, aimed at family carers supporting people whose behaviour is described as challenging. The information and advice comes from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). The At a glance briefings are written in conjunction with the Challenging Behaviour Foundation.

There are separate briefings for adults, teenagers and children. The briefings have both general and specific conclusions. For instance, that support should be flexible. It should also help families by being personalised to their needs and circumstances. The more specific recommendations look at areas such as comprehensive behaviour assessments. They should include both medical and mental health checks.

The guides help family carers to:

David Walden, Director of Adult Services at SCIE, says:

These guides look in detail at challenging behaviour and are aimed primarily at family carers. Challenging behaviour can put families under great pressure. So, services should support parents and other family carers in their caring role. Also, problems are often caused as much by the way a young person is supported – or not supported – as by their disabilities. People often behave in a “challenging” way if they have problems understanding what’s happening around them or communicating what they want or need.

Each briefing gives a definition of challenging behaviour. This is described as something that can put someone’s safety at risk, disrupt home life, stop involvement in educational and leisure activities, and that can affect someone’s ability to learn.


Family carers who support adults behaviour is described as challenging, should be given advice on housing options. Their loved-ones should have a care plan that is based on the person’s needs as an individual, including their cultural needs. There is also advice on how people with challenging behaviour should be supported in playing a part in their community.


Teenagers and young adults with learning disabilities should be able to choose, as far as possible, how and where they want to live as they become adults. Families should not be put in a position of choosing between coping at home or sending their loved-one to residential care.


A behaviour support team should work closely with a range of other professionals. These include experts in understanding and assessing challenging behaviour. Examples would be clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and speech and language therapists.

Policy context

Government policy, even in today’s economic climate, is that all people with learning disabilities have the same rights as everyone else. Valuing People Now is a three year cross government strategy for people with learning disabilities. It says that all people with a learning disability are people first with the right to lead their lives like any other. Aiming High for Disabled Children is the Government’s transformation programme for disabled children’s services in England.


Media contact

Steve Palmer | Press and Public Affairs Manager | Tel: 020 7766 7419 | Mob: 07739 458 192 | Email: