Dear CALM Community,

Today, our allies in the movement to reduce restrictive intervention in schools and beyond have released an updated version of their Reducing Restrictive Intervention of Children and Young People Report. We at CALM would like to welcome and commend this report as well as the effort of the two family-led charities behind it, Challenging Behaviour Foundation (CBF) and Positive and Active Behaviour Support Scotland (PABSS). Launched today at the House of Lords in collaboration with The Baroness Hollins, the report aims to raise public awareness of the potential misuse of restrictive interventions and the lack of guidance and oversight from governing bodies. As our community, you know how passionate we are about this issue, and we’d like to take this opportunity to recognise this necessary work from PABSS and CBF, share with you CALM’s position and history of leadership in the RRI movement, and to ask for your help to keep the movement growing in 2020!

We Believe

At CALM, we believe that the safest intervention is the one you never have to apply. We believe: there is always a reason for the distress which presents as challenging behaviour; that skilled support and planning is the key to humanely working with such distress; and that restrictive interventions should only ever be used as a last resort.

Our Experience

Our 20 years of experience – both on the ground as staff members in care services and as trainers to those in care services – has also shown us that there will always be a small number of scenarios in which the behaviour of a child may pose such severe risks to themselves or others that restraint may be the only means of the school fulfilling its legal duty of care to the child and its staff.

While the PABSS/CBF report suggests restraint may be associated with the risk of injury, we want to caution against the temptation to simply endorse a ban on the use of restraint. Not training staff where restraint is a foreseeable eventuality is not only unlawful, it is potentially more harmful to those in care if a staff member doesn’t know how to apply a hold in the safest way possible.

CALM carefully monitors risk associated with the use of our Physical Interventions – it is a contractual requirement for any injury involving CALM to be reported to CALM directly. We also audit every customer annually to identify our injury rate which has consistently remained extremely low. Our most recent data for 2018 maintains this trend with an overall staff injury rate of 0.53%, and an overall service user injury rate of 0.07%.

Comparative research has also consistently found that CALM physical intervention procedures are associated with the lowest risk of causing any injury to a child when restraint was absolutely unavoidable. There has never been a serious injury as a result of CALM technique in a school setting; there is simply no safer way of holding a child. And as carers ourselves, that is all we care about – keeping the children who are in our care safe and well.

Working to Reduce Restrictive Intervention

The PABSS and CBF report voices a concern that “restrictive interventions are being used too readily and are happening at a frequency that reflects a lack of planning or a focus on children’s rights.”

We share this concern and address this directly in our CALM Module 1 Theory Program which staff must undertake before receiving any training in physical interventions. This module focuses on how to assess, identify and address the root causes of distress that may present as behaviour that challenges as well the de-escalation skills that may sometimes help avert a crisis.

We also have our new Attachment Based and Trauma Informed Behaviour Support Lead Program which is designed for senior school staff responsible for the governance of behaviour support across a school. This equips school leaders with the skills to conduct individualised assessments, develop and implement integrative child-centred supports and provide the robust oversight necessary to ensure the minimisation of the use of restrictive interventions. This intensive program has been being rolled out across the UK from 2018 with an online version soon to come.

Calling on the Government!

As PABSS and CBF note in the initial 2019 report, “there is no formal requirement for local authorities or the Government to collect data about the extent or frequency of this practice and the resulting impact on children and families.” Vivien Cooper, Chief Executive of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, called on the Government in the report’s press release today, stating, “The Government and regulators must take urgent action to better understand what is going on, mandate recording and reporting and put in place the evidence-based approaches which are proven to work. We know how to support children well and avoid restrictive interventions so there is no excuse for injuring children through use of outdated and harmful practices.”

Since its inception in 1998 CALM have been calling for improved guidance and oversight for the education sector on the management of distress that may present as challenging behaviour. In the absence of comprehensive Scottish guidance from Scottish Government, CALM produced and published a guidance for schools on how to develop and implement their own restrictive interventions reduction strategy and distributed it to schools in 2018. Subsequently, CALM staff have been invited to be part of the Scottish Government working group drawing up new guidance on the minimisation of the use of restraint and seclusion. And while we look forward to ensuring that guidance incorporates the findings of this and previous research, we also want to echo and underscore PABSS/CBF’s call for the government to work to “better understand the scale and nature of this issue by collecting data, commissioning research and to take immediate practical action to safeguard disabled children in schools and children’s services.”

How you can help the movement

The PABSS and CBF research draws attention to the issue of child safety, emphasises the need to avoid the use of restrictive interventions and stresses the need for more robust governance around the use of physical interventions by local authorities and individual schools. This research should prompt us all to revisit risk assessment around restrictive intervention practices and revisit our organisational strategy for the reduction of restrictive practice.

To this end, there are a few actions you can take now to help ensure your organisation is the safest place it can be for the children in your care:

  1. Join the Restraint Reduction Network (RRN)! The Restraint Reduction Network steering group is a coalition of the individuals committed to reducing restrictive practices and protecting human rights.
  2. Go and ask to see your organisation’s policy on restraint and seclusion – and if you don’t have one (which many organisations don’t!) advocate for those who can’t and request a policy be formally established.
  3. Start a conversation at your next staff meeting around restraint reduction! The RRN has many resources and tools to help – including their Reducing Restrictive Practices Checklist which is a self-assessment tool to help organisations ensure that the use of restrictive practice is minimised and misuse and abuse of restraint is prevented. This and MANY other tools can be found on the website here:

If you have any questions about this report, our training or anything else please don’t hesitate to get in touch – we are here to help you provide the best care possible for those most vulnerable.

Your CALM Team

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