Here are some of the key features of the change process that have been reported across different types of successful positive support practices:
Forming a Team
Leaders within an organization interested in implementing positive support practices will create a team representing all of the individuals who are involved within and are impacted by an organization. Team members include administration, self-advocates, family members, faculty/staff members, community members, and others involve in a particular setting.
Everyone is Involved
Active administrator leadership and involvement is a key part the successful implementation of a positive support practice. Administrators and managers help make sure resources are allocated, meetings can be scheduled, and teams have the ability to make changes across an organization.
Buy-in and Active Participation
A main goal of this team will be to work closely with everyone within the organization. Staff meetings, group sessions, and training days are used to make sure that everyone has a chance to make decisions about how a positive support will be implemented. Real change will only occur when all individuals are invested and working together. The success of a positive support practice is based on everyone agreeing to try something new. A positive support has a higher chance of success if most of the people within an organization vote in favor of moving forward.
Self-Assessment and Action Planning
The organization-wide team guiding the implementation of a positive support organizes information to share with everyone so that group decisions can be made. The team reviews the strengths in an organization as well as its weaknesses. The self-assessment is used to consider the best way to implement a positive support practice. An action plan is designed for implementing a positive support practice and assessing its effectiveness over time.
Learning a new set of skills can be challenging. Organizations will increase the success of a positive support by providing different ways to learn these new skills. This is referred to as avoiding the “one shot workshop” approach. Workshops can help introduce important information but do not provide enough support for faculty/staff members to integrate new skills into their every day practices.
Coaching and Mentoring
Ongoing training often includes coaching and mentoring. Teachers, direct support professionals, and other staff members can try new strategies while working together with a person who has mastered these skills. It can be helpful for people learning a new skill to observe the implementation of a positive support practice implemented by someone with more experience. This onsite guidance can provide the support a person needs to actively discuss and integrate new strategies into everyday work routines.
Data-based Decision Making
Most staff members are involved in the collection of information related to their work. An important part of implementing a new positive support practice involves using this information for assessment purposes. The organization-wide team reviews the type of information gathered and how it relates to the positive support practice that is being implemented. The information is summarized and used to evaluate what is working well and what problems are observed. The summary of information gathered is shared with everyone on a regular basis and the team identifies opportunities to celebrate success over time.
Champions in All Roles
A positive support practice will be more successful when there are people with different roles and responsibilities who help lead implementation efforts. Self advocates, teachers, direct support professionals, family members, and other individuals experience positive support practices in different ways. A positive support practice will be more effective and maintained over time when there are leaders throughout a community working together to support changes in a home, school, work, and community settings.