In this article, Senior Director and Behaviour Support Practitioner Emma O'Neill details her journey from a nurse in Ireland to founder of Towards the Horizon, a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provider that implements behaviour support planning services in Australia.
Can you start off by telling us about yourself and your history with Maybo?
I'm a registered intellectual disability nurse specialising in behaviour support and epilepsy. I have worked with young people and elderly adults with disabilities for most of my career. I recently founded Towards the Horizon, a registered NDIS service provider, which specialises in Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) for NDIS participants. We pride ourselves on implementing comprehensive plans that meet the individualised needs of each person we meet.
I first encountered Maybo in 2013, when I was working for a care provider that was looking to implement a new training approach. We did a lot of research into the different organisations out there but Maybo’s innovative ethos stood out to us. I think we were one of the first providers in Darwin to use them, which was really quite exciting! Since then, delivering Maybo’s training has become my speciality.
What drew you to Maybo training?
The training can be tailored to each learner, making everyone’s experience dynamic and engaging. It gives staff and service managers transferable tools for success. No matter what, I can always go back to certain aspects of my training - it's very unshakeable, very applicable.
Can you tell us more about Towards the Horizon and what led you to set up the organisation?
I set up Towards the Horizon in October 2021, having seen a gap in the market for quality behaviour support plan writing and support. I wanted to help mentor practitioners and improve the care provided to people by communicating the idea that plan writing is only the start - a process that involves connecting with people on a deeper level and taking the time to understand the reasoning behind individuals’ behaviour.
For example, I always ensure that I get to know the person I am creating a plan for and I am practically present, organising regular sessions with the individual. This helps me to develop my understanding of the individual and enables me to provide highly tailored plans that will benefit the individual and their family.
What is your approach to developing a behaviour support plan?
When developing a PBS plan, I have quite an adaptive approach as I work with people with a range of needs, such as schizophrenia or severe trauma, and need to get information without triggering them. This involves slowly building a rapport with the person and letting them know that it is an open session and they can leave whenever they want. I also keep sessions to thirty minutes so they do not become overwhelmed.
My approach revolves around being person-centred. I offer strategies and support with empathy and compassion.
The best way I can think of to explain is to give you an example... I recently met a Dad who had been referred for Crisis Support. I had been bought in because his young son had suddenly become very violent and someone needed to figure out why, and what could be done to help. We first looked to bring in an intervention that would switch “consequences” for behaviour to “opportunities to succeed”. This type of intervention gives individuals a positive replacement action which enables self-awareness triggers that become a learned behaviour.
Another example of this is giving rewards and praise. I have a person at the moment where money is important because it provides the means to get new things. So, we use a chart which tracks the good things he does, like chores. Then he gets to pick from lots of different envelopes. Sometimes he gets a dollar, and sometimes he gets twenty dollars, but it motivates him to keep moving forward.
Do you have a career highlight or a favourite part of your job that you could share?
I really enjoy delivering engaging training. It has been a big part of my role for a long time and has become something I am really passionate about. I love knowing I have made a difference, giving staff the tools they need to improve their workplace.
Positive feedback is also always amazing to receive. It solidifies to me that the training I deliver is helpful and will enable better outcomes for staff.
You can contact Emma and others in her organisation here.