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Who’s Challenging Who?”

A new training programme on challenging behaviour has been researched and developed by Mencap Cymru. ‘Who's Challenging Who?’ is an 18-month knowledge transfer partnership between Mencap Cymru and Bangor University. It aims to improve challenging behaviour services for people with a learning disability by improving staff attitudes and increasing empathy.

“We needed a 'to-the-point' title which clearly captured the perspectives of people with challenging behaviour. If you look at the academic literature on this topic, you'll see a wealth of feedback by people with a learning disability and autism about the support they receive.” Said Lisa Hutchinson, the ‘Who's Challenging Who?’ project manager.  

“Sadly, their experiences haven't often been good. The title of the project - 'Who's Challenging Who?' - is therefore a frank question, which reflects how people with challenging behaviour have experienced some services.”

The work was done with Claire Bowler and Martin Banks, two people who have previously displayed challenging behaviour. Martin and Claire helped to co-author and deliver a series of pilot training sessions to social and healthcare staff across Wales. The staff gained a notable change in attitudes and more empathy towards people with challenging behaviour. Encouragingly, over 75% of people on the sessions said that they thought training in this area was a good use of their time, and the same number said that they would apply what they learned in their jobs.

For Martin and Claire, 'Who's Challenging Who' has meant more to them than just helping support staff - it has also helped them personally.

"Delivering training was good. It's helped me with public speaking and with talking about my problems," said Martin. "My advice to anyone who delivers training to people is to be confident, have fun, and relax!"

"People need to change their attitudes,” added Claire. "They shouldn't ignore me when I feel bad."

A conference was also organised by the project team in June 2012 to discuss the research findings, and give delegates the chance to discuss the topic. Speakers included Professor Richard Hastings, the lead researcher from Bangor University; Vivien Cooper, founder of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation; Mencap's Beverley Dawkins, the national officer for Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities, and Dr. Roger Banks, a consultant psychiatrist at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

'Who's Challenging Who?' will be developed over the coming months by Mencap with the hope of delivering it across the UK.

Publication date: 25 July 2012