Jane Pfaff

12 February 2020


I continue to marvel at the resilience of the people we support.

Over the past 40 years working in the disability sector, I have watched, particularly in group homes:

  • A constant coming and going of support staff.
  • Support programs that are taken away, then reinstated, only to be taken away again.
  • Communication supports, such as chat books removed or symbols not replaced, because ‘the client always destroys them’.
  • Boards posted on the wall of the group home, such as a ‘who’s on shift’, taken down as it is not considered appropriate in a home.
  • Attitudes from some staff that any display of challenging behaviour should have a consequence.
  • Loss of contact with family and friends.
  • People not recognised as sexual beings.
  • Illness or death of a co-resident and a dismissal of the persons need (or ability) to grieve.

WOW… I wonder how I would cope? How would you cope?

And what has this resulted in? Well, a constant stream of referrals for Behaviour Support.

Our target is to see a reduction in restrictive practices and a better quality of life for people. Sometimes this is happening for the wrong reasons.

The other day, I heard from a behaviour practitioner who had been recommending for a long time, that a locked kitchen gate should be removed: “If we increase the number of staff around meal times we can support the person to learn new life skills in the kitchen.”

But this was not a sufficient motivator to remove the gate.

The gate was finally removed by the accommodation service to save them from preparing Restrictive Practice reports. The organisation changed its practices for the better, to escape bureaucratic overheads, rather than to improve people’s lives.

The resilience of clients, families and professionals, working and living in such a morally ambivalent space, is something I am continually humbled by.

Jane Pfaff.
Senior Project Officer.

Jane leads high performing teams. She provides supervision and support to team members, helping them achieve their potential, and deliver excellent client outcomes. Jane is passionate about building healthy human connections and a strong social fabric--this is where real positive changes start to happen.


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