Let us talk punishment vs consequences; in our line of work these two concepts can be easily mistaken for one another (sometimes the difference can be unclear), especially when trying to navigate through the complexities of the individuals we support. So, what is the difference? Firstly, a punishment is the ‘forceful’ imposition of a penalty as retribution. A punishment does not respect the individual’s right to decide, even if that decision is a poor one. This approach does not help our individuals develop new ways of taking responsibility for their behavior – It can also be destructive to the relationship between yourself and the individuals we support.
Additionally, punishments almost always backfire particularly in individuals with a history of trauma who tend to have a high tolerance for negativity, conflict, and chaos (this is seen a lot in attachment disorders). Punishment feeds into ‘power struggles’, if you are not in control, then they are and to them being in control is much more important than any punishment we can impose. Moreover, punishments are also temporary and teaches individuals to respond out of fear rather than out of the desire to do what is right. Lastly, punishments can create ‘emotional distance’, that is, it can make individuals fearful of trusting others as they believe that it is required to maintain this distance to protect themselves from future injury – Feeding into the “me against you” mentality.
On the other hand, consequences are the outcomes that results from one’s behaviour. Generally, there two types of consequences: natural and logical and both are important when it comes to our individual’s development. The difference between natural and logical consequences are that natural consequences happen, well, naturally (i.e., you do not wear a coat outside when it is cold – you are going to get cold). Logical consequences, however, are planned outcomes such as when we did not complete chores, and then lost out on certain privileges (I.e., going to a friend's house).
As such, what we need to focus on is creating effective consequences and providing those consequence in an appropriate manner to help our individuals learn and grow. So as a staff what can you do?
Follow programming (a lot of protocols are in place after thoughtful planning).
Be consistent with your approach.
Focus on what you control - accept your limits (This is a big one to avoid that power struggle and burnout).
Remain objective, never let yourself be pulled into their chaos and do not take their behavior personally (which can be difficult).
Remember, punishments relay the message to our clients that we want them to act a certain way and if they do not, we will make them suffer until they make the choice we want. Consequences are a constructive tool to help our clients learn, communicate, and achieve positive change. Ultimately, our clients’ behaviors are up to them, which is hard for many of us to accept but it is our duty to consistently hold our clients accountable through consequences.
The CASE department provides additional supports to individuals who have complex behavioural support needs, and their staff. In providing additional behaviour supports, it is the role of the CASE department to identify why the behaviour is happening, and develop strategies that will help reduce, change, or eliminate the behaviour of concern. It is also our responsibility to assist DSWI and DSWII staff with day-to-day care and tasks such as writing reports, identifying behaviours, and assisting individuals with behavioural needs as best we can. Click here for department resources.
“To continue to provide educational opportunities”
This last year, the CASE team has worked towards continuing to provide educational opportunities to the employees of Quest Support Services. During this time, the CASE team has hosted Mindfulness, Reporting and Positive Strategies (MRP) and Validation training for DSWI/ DSWII to participate in.
Incident Reports are forms that employees fill out when something out of the ordinary happens. Sometimes Incident Reports are filled out because of an accident, such as scraping a knee, cutting a finger, or slipping in the bathtub. Other times an Incident Report might be filled out because someone was yelling and swearing, throwing things, hitting, or because they couldn’t be found. Whatever the reason for filling out an Incident Report, it’s important that they’re filled out correctly.
Incident Reports themselves can be intimidating. They are a two page document that expects the writer to set aside their feelings and objectively
write down what happened. This is called "objective writing". Objective writing uses only facts to record what was seen, and by whom. If you have question about how to fill out Incident Reports correctly, or what it means to write objectively, check out our videos on "Incident Reports" (left) and "Objective Writing" (right) to answer your questions.