From nursing and mental health to Positive Behaviour Support: Meet Karan Singh, PBS Practitioner in Melbourne
31 March 2023
Making Positive Behaviour Support easier to access in Melbourne is important to us. We’re excited to have a presence in Victoria supporting NDIS participants and their families in Melbourne and beyond. Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) improves a person’s quality of life by addressing behaviours of concern through observations, assessments and proactive and reactive strategies.
Find out more about Positive Behaviour Support in this short video with Belinda:
Today it is wonderful to introduce you to our first behaviour support practitioner in Melbourne, Karan Singh.
Positive Behaviour Support Practitioner in Melbourne
Karan, welcome to the team! Tell us about your background working in mental health!
Thank you! It’s great to be part of such a great organisation where the focus of care is people.
I am a nurse by trade, I worked in general nursing in Melbourne for almost four years before making the transition to mental health over a decade ago. I always had a drive to learn how support is offered and provided to our clients who are the most vulnerable and this led me to work for many different public health organisations and across many different areas.
Over the years, I have worked in areas including psychosocial rehabilitation, acute inpatient mental health units, case management, crisis assessment and treatment teams, psychiatric triage service, mental health in emergency departments and Police, Ambulance, Clinician Emergency Response (PACER).
Apart from working in the clinical setting, I’ve also led large mental health teams especially during the COVID lockdown period. This allowed me to be innovative in how mental health services can be optimised and provided to our clients who may not have access to lot of resources.
Tell us more about PACER!
PACER is a really exciting service which was initially trialled in Victoria as a Pilot Program in 2016. The service was designed to reduce pressure on emergency departments.
The role of a PACER clinician is to respond to any acute mental health crisis in the community by avoiding presentation to an already busy emergency department.
The role can be very exciting as well as challenging as situations can vary. I’ve been involved in many high pressure siege situations which have lasted as long as 17 hours with 19 police units, Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) and Police Air Wing collectively trying to achieve the best outcome. Apart from offering clinical expertise, my role was also to provide education to Victoria Police Members.
What inspired you to transition from your career in mental health to Positive Behaviour Support?
After working in the public system for so long, and working in different areas of different organisations, I realised that what we see in public health is really the tip of the iceberg and a very small percentage of people in the community.
With all the skills and knowledge I acquired over the years, I wanted to give more to the community, serve more people, empower more communities.
What aspects do the two careers have in common?
I think the clinical aspect is very much alike. Both areas are committed to serve the community who otherwise may not have access to a lot of other resources. The only difference, in my view, is how we provide support.
What was one of the most rewarding aspects of working in the mental health field?
My favourite bit! For me, it hasn’t been words or gestures of “thank you”, but a look in the eye of clients, family and carers which acknowledges the work we have put in. Being able to see a person enjoy simple gestures is just priceless. Something about giving back is so powerful.
How has your work in mental health prepared you for a career in Positive Behaviour Support?
My previous roles in the field of mental health have been very similar to Positive Behaviour Support, but only in very, very acute settings such as when working in the Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team, PACER, Mental Health Inpatient Units and emergency department. I have always been passionate about learning about people and their needs and using that knowledge to implement positive changes in a person’s life.
Mental Health and Positive Behaviour Support
You would have seen Positive Behaviour Support in action while working in mental health. Can you share a positive experience with us?
Yes, I’ve been part of many Positive Behaviour Support experiences in the public health system. One such experience is about a young person who had dual diagnoses of a psychotic illness as well as previous traumatic experience. As a result, this young person presented a rather complex picture. Often, this young person would have angry outbursts and it was difficult to know what was causing it.
As a team we were able to work closely with the young person, family, friends and support services. We were able to establish a plan which included developing a communication board which gave the people involved an understanding of the needs of this young person at different times.
We were also able to support the family and services involved and educate them about different ways of supporting the client such as respite accommodation and seeking assistance from the client’s psychiatrist to review and adjust medication. On further evaluation of the plan, we noticed a significant reduction in behaviours of concern and restrictive interventions.
You’ve worked as a crisis team clinician. How can Positive Behaviour Support help in crisis situations?
Crisis work is all about assessing risks and constantly evaluating situations, circumstances and actions that might be driving the crisis. Once a trigger is identified, a crisis can be resolved fairly quickly.
For example, I once visited a client who had a complex personality structure due to his previous experiences. The client was threatening to harm himself and others around him. His family was completely exhausted and could not think of a way to support him.
One of the main challenges was to establish rapport with the client, and that took some time. Once the rapport was established, we noted a quick de-escalation in the behaviour itself. The missing link here was patience and acknowledgement. Once these were established and our client was able to let his frustrations out without any judgement from us, the crisis was over.
What we found was that because the family was so exhausted, they simply were running out of ways they could cope themselves and in turn, support the client. A few days in respite was all it took to restore a healthy balance.
Positive Behaviour Support in Melbourne
As our team grows in Victoria, we’ll deliver support in more areas. To start with, which parts of Melbourne will you be delivering Positive Behaviour Support?
I’m based in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne and provide support to individuals located within 30 minutes of Chadstone, such as Dandenong, Narre Warren, Ringwood, Doncaster and St Kilda. In time, our team will grow and we’ll provide PBS services in more metropolitan and regional areas in Victoria.
Do you have an office in Melbourne that NDIS participants can visit with their families?
We don’t have a physical office — in fact, we’re a team of over 100 people around Australia, and each of us meets with clients and their support teams at locations that work for them. For example, we might meet at their home, school or supported living accommodation. In addition, we can provide support through telePBS, including phone and video calls. We live in a time where the modality of service has changed and our commitment to serve the community allows us to be agile.
Make a referral for Positive Behaviour Support in Melbourne
How can NDIS participants, families and support coordinators make a referral for Positive Behaviour Support in Melbourne?
About Ability Consultants
Ability Consultants is a Registered NDIS Provider in Australia. We create freedom and social connection through easy access to Positive Behaviour Support. Click here to watch a video explaining Positive Behaviour Support and to find out more about positive behaviour support plans.
Our PBS Practitioners support NDIS participants located in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, regional NSW and regional QLD. We also provide psychology support to NDIS participants in selected areas, including therapy, assessments, psychological management and intervention.