Practice Leadership and Reducing Restrictive Practices

Roy DeveauRoy Deveau, Honorary Research Associate at the Tizard Centre, University of Kent, is a delivering a workshop at the November Restraint Reduction Conference examining the implementation of Department of Health policy in organisational context, looking at frontline-practice leadership. Here he give us a preview of the subject, plus details of the research papers that have contributed to the workshop.


Practice Leadership is a style of frontline management that focuses on how staff are working with service users to develop the potential and well-being of all. The alternative that many managers and organisations reinforce involves keeping up-to-date with the extensive requirements for paperwork and records. Research, including my own, has shown that Practice Leadership is associated with better staff experiences when working with people who show behaviour that may be described as challenging. Practice Leadership is also associated with improved implementation of Active support. Practice Leaders focus on and keep in touch with what staff are doing most of the time, ie. the informal organisational culture, rather than what they can do when being watched. As Bob Diamond, the former boss of Barclays Bank, put it: ‘Culture is what happens when people are not being watched’.

My workshop at the 2015 Restraint Reduction Conference (scheduled for the afternoon of Friday 13 November) will examine the implementation of government policy regarding restrictive practice (Positive & Proactive Care: Reducing the need for restrictive interventions, Department of Health, 2014) in the context of organisational structures, frontline practice leadership and ensuring good results for both service users and staff. The theoretical context will be complemented with a practice focus, using examples from research.

Further information is a available from:

Research papers:
Deveau, R., & McGill, P. (2015). Practice Leadership at the Front Line in Supporting People with Intellectual Disabilities and Challenging Behaviour: A Qualitative Study of Registered Managers of Community‚Äźbased, Staffed Group homes. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities.

Deveau, R., & McDonnell, A. (2009). As the last resort: reducing the use of restrictive physical interventions using organisational approaches. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 37(3), 172-177.

Deveau, R., & McGill, P. (2014). Leadership at the front line: Impact of practice leadership management style on staff experience in services for people with intellectual disability and challenging behaviour. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 39(1), 65-72.

Deveau, R., & McGill, P. (2009). Physical interventions for adults with intellectual disabilities: survey of use, policy, training and monitoring. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 22(2), 145-151.