Meet Brett Sams, Behaviour Support Practitioner in Lake Macquarie
16 February 2023
We’re on a mission to make positive behaviour support easy to access and we’re pleased to introduce Brett Sams from Lake Macquarie. Brett is a brilliant behaviour support practitioner located on the western side of Lake Macquarie, about 15 minutes north of where Lake Macquarie meets the Central Coast in New South Wales.
Ability Consultants is a Registered NDIS Provider supporting individuals throughout the east coast of Australia including regional New South Wales.
Brett has built valuable experience in the disability sector for over 15 years. He graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of New England and is passionate about empowering individuals to reach their potential and ensuring individuals are actively valued as a member of their community.
Meet Brett Sams, Positive Behaviour Support Practitioner in the Lake Macquarie region
Hi Brett, thanks for sitting down with me today to talk about positive behaviour support in the Lake Macquarie region. First off, tell us about you!
I have been working in the disability industry for 15 years with most of that being a disability support worker. In that time, I have completed a Bachelor of Social Work and have worked as a support coordinator and now behaviour support practitioner.
Why did you choose to work in the disability sector?
Personally, growing up I’ve had family members with a disability. When I finished school, I was unsure of what I wanted to do, however, I received support as a young teen and I knew that I wanted to give back. The disability industry was one area that interested me and due to personal experiences, I thought that this was an area of the community where I could use my experiences to help others who may not have opportunities.
A few years ago you changed careers from being a disability support worker to a positive behaviour support practitioner. What inspired the change?
During my time as a support worker, I noticed a deficit in behaviour support practitioners who seemed to copy and paste behaviour support plans from a textbook and thought there was a better way to do it. I saw a lot of behaviour support plans that were not person-centred which is the way that I have always worked.
What does it mean to be person-centred in your approach to positive behaviour support?
Being person-centred should not be a selling point of a service. Being person-centred is a minimum requirement for all NDIS services to ensure that some of the most vulnerable people in our community are protected and heard rather than having others make a decision for them. For me being person-centred simply means that as a behaviour support practitioner, the participant is involved as much as they want to be, or as they can.
A couple of years ago, I had a participant who had restrictive practices in his plan around food limitations but the reason why wasn’t explained to him. Simply by sitting with him and explaining why the restrictive practice was in place and what the consequences of having those foods may result in, he stated that he agreed that these restrictions should be in place and it had not been explained why they were there in the first place.
After having the reason explained to him, he said that he understood the reason and did not want to eat those foods and place him at significant risk. The participant then stated that because he understood the reason, he would stop becoming aggressive towards the staff when they denied him access to those foods. By simply taking the time to explain why a behaviour support plan is created and how it influences the care that is provided, this may reduce behaviours of concern.
Positive Behaviour Support in the Lake Macquarie region
What is positive behaviour support?
Belinda explains positive behaviour support in this short video below.
As part of our commitment to delivering the best outcomes for individuals with disability, we're a Registered NDIS Provider, which means we align with and go beyond the expectations and requirements set out by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commmission.
Can you share a memorable PBS experience?
I was working with a client who lived in a group home. The support staff were reporting that there was no pattern to the behaviours of concern from the participant. Through working with the team of support staff, I was able to see a pattern in behaviours of concern.
The pattern appeared to show that Thursday to Monday was a peak period of behaviours with the majority of behaviours occurring on Saturdays and Sundays. The participant attended a day program Monday to Friday which was a structured environment and the group home was a less structured environment. By putting some structure in place in the group home, the behaviours reduced, which had a flow-on effect on the rest of the house and the working environment for the staff.
Tell us about your approach to positive behaviour support?
Having been a support worker for some time, I like to approach behaviour support from a perspective of “What would work for the support team”? If the strategies within the behaviour support plan have no positive effect on the situation, then the plan needs to change. By having experience as a support worker, along with my behaviour support experience, I have a unique perspective that benefits my clients.
Find out more about positive behaviour support in the Lake Macquarie region
If individuals, support coordinators and other NDIS Providers in the Lake Macquarie region want to know more about positive behaviour support, how do they get in contact with you?
They are more than welcome to phone me on 1300 694 625 or send an email to [email protected]. I’d be more than happy to have a chat on the phone or meet in person.
If you’re ready to make a referral for positive behaviour support, please complete our online referral form and our team will be in contact with you. Please note that at the time of publishing this article, Brett is currently at capacity. Wait times for different regions will vary depending on practitioner availability and client needs.
Life in the Lake Macquarie region
What’s the most incredible part about living in Lake Macquarie?
Living in Lake Macquarie means that you’ve got access to some great beaches, while being relaxed. If you want something a bit more fast-paced, the bustle of Newcastle is only a short drive away while Sydney and the rest of the world is not far away either.
Along with great beaches, some of the best wineries in the world are only a short half-hour drive from your doorstep. If you’re not into wine, there are also cheese and chocolate factories mixed in with some great golf courses in the Hunter Valley.
You worked as a disability support worker in the Lake Macquarie region for over ten years. Where is a great, accessible place to visit in the region?
Blackbutt Reserve is a great place to enjoy some sunshine and a bush setting without needing a four-wheel drive. Blackbutt Reserve in Newcastle offers free entry to see the animals, including wombats, koalas, roos, birds, reptiles, peacocks, brush turkeys and more.
If you’re ready to make a referral for positive behaviour support, please complete our online referral form and our team will be in contact with you.