Breaking down PACT - what does our name mean?Aug 20, 2021
When Emma and I first decided to develop the UK’s first BCBA-led behavioural gerontology service provision, we spent a long time agonising over the name we would use. We went through a variety of options, dedicating hours to brainstorming words and phrases, none of which quite conveyed the variety of services and values we wanted to communicate with the name for our practice. Finally, we narrowed it down and as soon as the words “Positive Ageing Consultancy & Training or PACT for short” was uttered, it was a done deal.
In today’s blog, we wanted to share with you what PACT means by breaking it down word by word. We hope that it gives you a better understanding of who we are, what we do and maybe also how we could help you.
The first word in our name is probably the most important. It communicates the values that we hold that we embed within our services and professional conduct. Positive means a few things to us, firstly, it means that we are optimistic in our outlook. Ageing can come with a number of challenges and barriers, as can a diagnosis of dementia. But that does not mean that there are no ways that we can help support someone in a way that improves their life or makes it more enjoyable. There are always ways that we can help someone, no matter what their current situation, diagnosis, age or condition. Because we take a positive standpoint, we also think it’s important to be pragmatic and practical. Awareness and empathy campaigns are really crucial, but can only go so far in making real change to help someone. We always provide practical solutions to our clients that are also do-able, meaning that they are more likely to be successful and make a real impact to our clients’ lives.
The second interpretation of positive is in relation to our ethics for professional behavioural practice. We take our duty and obligation to our clients’ welfare very seriously, and because of this, we focus on the use of positive interventions that are constructive in nature. In simpler terms, this means that we always look to add something to the environment and to their experiences, never take away. We focus on the use of positive reinforcement, of meeting needs, and of adding skills to someone’s life, rather than the use of aversives to reduce or restrict someone’s choices, independence or behavioural repertoire. We always aim to build rather than dismantle.
The third aspect we wanted to communicate with the word positive is the feeling of warmth, compassion and dignity for everyone that we work with and the understanding that every single person we meet is completely unique. This is not only for the clients we work with, but for their carers or caregivers, their family, and any one else involved in supporting that individual. Often, when people get to needing our services, they have hit rock bottom and are reaching out as a last resort after months or sometimes years of consistent burn out and stress. They are often experiencing intense grief, guilt and helplessness at the situation they find themselves in and struggle to see a way out. We support in a way that is compassionate and understanding, never judgmental or blaming. We know that we need to listen and be kind, but that the best way we can help is to develop their skills to not just get through, but to thrive and progress.
We also extend this approach to our trainees and supervisees. We have expert understanding of learning and behaviour, and from that we know that using positive approaches are the best way to develop their skills and create an excellent next generation of behavioural gerontologists.
In some ways, ageing speaks for itself - it communicates who we serve in our practice. Many behaviour analysts work with young children and adults with disabilities, but that does not mean that we only work with these populations. Just like speech and language therapists or occupational therapists, we have a general understanding in our area of expertise, but then we specialise within that. For behaviour analysts, we have training in human behaviour and learning, but then we take advanced training to work with the group we feel most passionate about helping.
We also chose the word ageing over words like “old” or “elderly” because we do not like the use of those terms in this context. Using those static terms, it would suggest that we work with a specific age range and only this age range, or all within that age range. This is not the case. Ageing is a process over time, and we focus on how ageing can affect behaviour, not on the age of the person. Because of this, we may work with someone who is not considered “old” or “elderly” because they have early onset of ageing related difficulties. Similarly, there are many people who would fit under the term “elderly”, but who do not need our services because they are not experiencing any difficulties in relation to the ageing process.
We avoided using the term dementia in our name as a purposeful choice. While we specialise in working with people with dementia, we didn’t want people to think we were limited to people with that diagnosis, because our work can benefit a range of ageing people. Many people with whom we work may not have a formal diagnosis of dementia but experiencing symptoms relating to dementia, may have no symptoms of dementia but other challenges, may have other diagnoses such as cognitive decline or have other conditions such as learning disabilities. We work with anyone that needs our support with challenges related to ageing.
With the word consultancy, we wanted to indicate that 1. We are not a care service provider, but more importantly, 2. We come to you, we work for you, and we work with you. We are highly trained and highly specialised professionals with expertise in a niche area. We know that to truly make a difference and understand behaviour, we have to see the entire context of where, when, how and why behaviour is happening. We couldn’t do that in a clinic or outpatient setting, so if the behaviour you are finding difficult happens at home, then we come to your home. If it happens out when you’re shopping, then you’ll find us accompanying you to the supermarket for your weekly shop!
Consultancy also includes the range of other services we can provide outside of our clinical work. We are keen to work with others to develop further services and opportunities - basically anything to improve evidence-based and person centered outcomes for older adults is right up our alley!
The training part of our name is the last word, but it’s a crucial part of what we do and the service we provide. When we work with a family or care provider, we work hard to develop a fully individualised, person centered, positive and practical intervention that improves quality of life for all involved. But just creating a plan, writing a report and then leaving misses out the most important aspect about creating behaviour change- changing the behaviour of those around the person! Short term change is easy, but we’re not interested in easy, we’re interested in effective. When we develop a plan, we always teach and train those around them in how to consistently and accurately deliver that plan, and look to make changes to ensure the plan will be maintained long term.
We are passionate about dissemination and education both within our field and to care providers and other professionals. Because of this, we offer training in a range of areas. We have training sessions for carers covering topics such as how to manage behavioural problems and how to improve choice and independence in day to day care. We also provide lectures and seminar content to other professionals both nationally and internationally.
As behavioural gerontology is one of the areas of our field that is the most niche, we also offer online CEUs for behaviour analysts across the world who want to learn more about how the science of applied behavior analysis can be applied to older adults and those with dementia. This is a core part of what we do here at PACT, so it was important to us that our name reflects that aspect of our service too.
Finally, we love that our name makes the acronym PACT and this is as much part of our name as the individual words themselves. All our work is collaborative both because that is part of our values, but also because of the nature of our work - we cannot make real behavioural change without working together with everyone involved. At the center of our work is a partnership with the family, the carers, other professionals and most importantly, with the individual themselves. We develop a relationship built on open communication and mutual trust, ensuring that everyone is involved at all stages of the process. Our interventions therefore fit within the context of the environment the person lives in, the situation they find themselves in, their culture and the culture of those around them, and the identity of the person we’re working with. It’s a dynamic and ongoing relationship and one that we are proud to develop with our inspiring clients.
Stay connected with news and updates!
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.