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Responding to a Crisis - Fact Sheet

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Responding to a Crisis - Fact Sheet

Despite the best Positive Behaviour Support Plans, there can be incidents that get out of hand and pose dangers. These are situations were someone may be at an immediate risk.


As behaviour starts to escalate, continue to work at understanding the triggers and purpose of behaviour. You may still be able to prevent a crisis with:

  • a calm even tone of voice and reassurance
  • active listening and expressing empathy
  • simple, clear directions of what is required.

Tone of voice is very important. Many of us will start to subconsciously speak in a higher pitch even if we are trying to defuse a situation. Deliberately speaking quietly in a normal tone can make a big difference, despite all that adrenalin flooding our system!


Try to identify the message behind the behaviour too; you might be able to avert a crisis if you can find the trigger and deal with it directly. A Positive Behaviour Support Plan should include how to respond to each possible crisis situation.Typical strategies during the escalation phase include:

  • Promoting coping skills
  • Breathing exercises
  • Redirection (distraction)
  • Stimulus change
  • 'Help me' requests
  • Introducing humour (this can be a difficult technique and should only be used by a familiar person)
  • Exiting the troubling environment.


When a crisis develops, your personal safety takes priority over everything else. You should have a crisis management plan which includes:

  • when to disengage from an escalating situation
  • making sure your exits are always unobstructed
  • prior removal of any items that could be used as a weapon
  • a list of back-ups and supports to contact.

After everything has settled down, you may need to debrief. Talk the situation over with a family member, counsellor or your local Brain Injury Association. Carers can quickly burn out when they are unable to deal with the stress that slowly builds up after each crisis if they don't have any support.


Where crises are a regular occurrence, it pays to get professional support. Contact your local Brain Injury Association for services in your State.



You need to look after yourself to last the distance! Remember these key points:

  • Make sure you get time for family, hobbies, socialising and work
  • Make the most of respite care
  • Don't be afraid to assert yourself in getting the support you need
  • Beware of the superhero attitude as burnout is the usual result
  • Work hard to maintain friendships
  • Make time for exercise and a good diet.


Contact your Commonwealth Carer Resource Centre on 1800 242 636. All carers can use the services provided by the Carers Association in each State or Territory.


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