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Behaviour Nurse

Clinical Practice
Career Pathway

Career Directions

  • Clinical Practice

Area of Practice

  • Learning Disability Nursing


  • Hospital Care

Job/Role Summary

In my job as a Behaviour Nurse I have direct clinical involvement with my patients. A major part of my job is conducting a functional assessment of the behaviours that challenge and interpreting what my patient is communicating through this behaviour. From this assessment and analysis of data I develop Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) plans that detail a step by step approach to improve the quality of life of the patient whilst teaching them more effective and safer ways of communicating their needs.


I am actively involved in the implementation of a PBS Framework within the hospital environment. PBS is an evidence based approach that involves behaviour science and person centred care. The main aim is to improve the quality of life of the patient and their family/carers through understanding the reason for their behaviour of concern and teach new skills and promote community inclusion which in turn will reduce the likelihood of these behaviours being displayed.

I have a particular interest in training and supporting staff in the implementation of PBS and our specialist team take the lead in embedding this framework within the hospital supported by other members of the multi-disciplinary team.


Specific qualifications and experience required

I commenced my career in Learning Disabilities in 1991, qualifying as a Registered Nurse Learning Disabilities in 1994. My first Staff Nurse post was as a staff nurse in Muckamore Abbey Hospital (MAH) Day care services before working in a number of different inpatient environments within the hospital setting which supported patients with varying physical, sensory, mental health and behavioural needs.

I commenced my career in Adult Behaviour Services as a Staff Nurse in 1998. I completed my BSc (Hons) in Professional Development in Nursing in 1999. I have studied a number of Post Graduate courses with the emphasis on this specialist area of nursing. Currently I am in process of completing a Professional Diploma in Positive Behaviour Support. I also am an active therapist within the Hospital Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Team.


Career Milestones

Commencing work within the Behaviour Support Team which ignited my passion for supporting patients who present with behaviours that challenge and supporting them to reach their full potential, live as independently as possible and most of all have a good quality of life.

I feel proud to have developed my career, education and knowledge and that has allowed me to attain my current position as a Behaviour Nurse Specialist, whilst working full time and being a busy mum!


What attracted you to this job?

Learning disability nursing is unique as the focus is on supporting each individual to reach their personal best in different aspects of their life. Having worked in different areas of learning disabilities nursing I see the negative impact behaviours that challenge can have on the individual presenting with them, their families and friends. Having witnessed patients receive intensive behaviour support and how this has changed their lives in such a positive way has encouraged my current career pathway.


Enjoyable aspects of the job/role

The most enjoyable part of my job is enabling my patients through PBS to lead full and rewarding lives. When a patient presents with a behaviour that challenges it always serves a function. Establishing the function to the behaviour and teaching new skills to replace behaviours that challenge leads to an increased quality of life for our patients and maximises social inclusion. Improving the patient’s life and that of their family and carers is tremendously rewarding.


Important success factors

  • Empathy
  • Knowledge of specialist area
  • Multidisciplinary Team work


Key skills that can be gained within this job/role?

  • Nursing patients who present with behaviours that challenge you develop skills in
  • Communication
  • Risk management
  • Multidisciplinary Team Working
  • In-depth knowledge of various clinical presentations e.g. .Autism, Personality Disorders and Syndromes with associated behaviour pathology.


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