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19 May 2023

Bild International Positive Behaviour Support Conference 2023- Kindness, Connection and Coproduction: Looking for the heart and soul of PBS

Edwin Jones and Val Kewley speaking on coproduction to a packed room

Bild’s annual Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) Conference took place in Newcastle last week, bringing together people with lived experience, family carers, practitioners, and professionals. The two-day hybrid event incorporated a range of keynote speakers and practical workshops with the theme of Kindness, Connection, and Coproduction prominent throughout. The powerful presentations and workshops demonstrated the importance of treating people with dignity, respect, empathy, and establishing meaningful connection.

Day one of the conference featured ‘Our PBS Way of Life’ from Debbie Austin (Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, Strategic Learning Disability Workforce Development Manager – Family Carers). Debbie described her experience of incorporating PBS within her family as life changing. “The fundamental kindness of PBS has transformed our lives. Not everything that is kind is PBS, but if it isn’t kind- it isn’t PBS” Debbie Austin.

The conference continued with ‘Demystifying Practice Leadership’ from Bev Murphy (Head of Practice, United Response), which explored the relationship between practice leadership and PBS. Key themes from Bev’s presentation included the importance of modelling good support to staff, using clear language, and reviewing data.  Bev left the audience with a clear message “A significant part of our work going forward will be to build on good practice leadership not just good PBS”.


The final presentation of the conference was ‘Kindness – The Heart and Soul of Wellbeing’, with Jamie Emberson (Company Director, The Academy of Awareness and Wellbeing). Jamie’s closing comment left the audience feeling empowered to bring kindness into the workplace: “Kindness, Connection and Coproduction is a cause that unites in our shared humanity. Unless we care for ourselves then how can we care for other people,”

The conference explored wider topics across the event, including the following sessions:

  • Rapport, Relationships, Ensuring Good Connections: Essential Elements of PBS with Dr Maria Hurman (Independent Clinical Reviewer, Expert Clinician, National Learning Disability and Autism Programme, NHS England & BILD Associate Consultant)Working with Self-Advocates to Co-Produce a Fidelity tool for Assessing Implementation of PBS with Dr Rachel Freeman (Director of State Initiatives for the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota)
  • Finding our Co-Pro Mojo – Showcasing Good Practice Case Studies with Professor Edwin Jones (Positive Behavioural Support PBS Strategic Lead, Bild)
  • A Plain English Version of The Refined Definition of PBS with Dr Nick Gore (Co-Head of Tizard Centre Reader in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Tizard Centre) and Debbie Austin (Strategic Learning Disability Workforce Development Manager – Family Carers, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust)
  • Finding the Happiness in PBS with Dr Darren Bowring, (Associate Editor, International Journal of Positive Behavioural Support)
  • A Rights Based Perspective on Psychological Restraint with Dr Tallyn Gray (Human rights officer at Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Trust) and Alexis Quinn (RRN Manager, author and activity)


Delegates both in-person and online were engaged in lively debate and conversation throughout the three days. Comments from delegates and chairs included:

Day 2 Chairs Kate Sanger (left) and Steve Wilson (right)

“It made people’s lives feel important, it was just beautiful. I loved it.”

“We need to use the word people rather than patients.”

“There is a glimmer of hope, we need to keep spreading the word.”

“We need to fix the environment; it is not about fixing people.”

“You don’t need lots of money or materials, it’s about enjoying that relationship with the person you are supporting.”

“We need to bring love into care.”

“The change starts when we go back to the workplace and start implementing the changes discussed today”.

“Go make the change and be the difference.”

“Thank you all for making the world a better place.”