PETMA™ for Adult Disability Services

PETMA™ for Adult Disability Services

PETMA™ for Adult Disability ServicePETMA™ (Professional Ethical Therapeutic Mindful Approach) stands as the pioneering and sole Irish-based behaviour management training model accredited with the Restraint Reduction Network, BILD Certified, and proudly Guaranteed Irish. Developed by Martha McGinn and Bernie Kerridge, Company Directors of the National Institute of Intellectual Disability Studies, PETMA™ emerged from extensive research into the needs of those providing support to adults in independent living, day, residential, and respite services within the disability sector in Ireland.

This model is meticulously designed to align with Irish legislation and HIQA themes, standards, and regulations, specifically addressing Theme 3 Safe Services and Regulations 7, 8, and 26 concerning Positive Behaviour Support, Protection, and Risk Management, respectively.

PETMA™ focuses on the individual, their narrative, and their position within the system. As Paul Collins aptly stated, "The problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work... it's that you're destroying the peg." Individuals presenting with behaviours of concern are simply asking for services to listen, employing both eyes and ears when they attempt to communicate their needs:

  • "Something's not right... I need you to help me with it" (Physiological)
  • "I am not being understood" or "I'm not understanding" (Communication)
  • "This is not the place for me. It could be if..." (Environment)
  • "I'd like to be supported by people who know me, want to support me, and are also being looked after" (Mediators)

PETMA™ is painstakingly created to equip learners with fundamental professional, ethical, and therapeutic competencies, knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to support adults during moments of distress, guiding them toward a calmer state while ensuring the safety of all involved. These programmes are tailored to provide learners with relevant skills in prevention, prediction, and recognition of escalating situations, as well as the ability to manage actual or potential verbal or physical distressful behaviour effectively.

Expert Training Needs Analysis  

The PETMA™ journey within any organisation begins with a comprehensive Training Needs Analysis which is a consultation process to assess the conditions and potential incidents involving individuals within the organisation to ensure the delivery of a customised training programme.

Given the intricate professional, legal, and ethical aspects of supporting individuals who may engage in physically harmful and or distressful behaviour, our approach follows the HSE's "Linking Service and Safety" (2008) which recommends:

Consultation process that includes: 

  • Direct interaction with individuals who may engage in distressful behaviour to understand their sources of distress.
  • Clinical consultations with direct support staff and, if necessary, reviewing individual service user files.
  • Discussions with Health & Safety representatives and those responsible for risk management.
  • Consultations with senior management.
  • All documented and undocumented incidents are analysed, and their training implications are incorporated into the programme design.

Customised Training Programme Development

The National Institute of Intellectual Disabilities leverages a wide range of resources and training modules to create a bespoke programme tailored to the training needs identified through the analysis. This ensures the delivery of behaviour training, positive support strategies, and physical interventions within the appropriate context organisation. Our expertise includes comprehensive training on Positive Behaviour Support and support for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Mental Health Difficulties, and Attachment Disorder.

Post-TNA Programme Development

 Following the Expert Training Needs Analysis (ETNA), we develop a programme that includes a mix of bespoke and mandatory modules from an extensive list, such as: 

  • Understanding the realities of having an Intellectual Disability/Acquired Brain Injury/Autism, Anxiety Disorder
  • Positive Behaviour Support: Values, assessment methods, and strategies using Person-Centred Approaches to develop proactive strategies.
  • De-escalation Skills: Verbal, environnemental, empathy, collaboration and active listening techniques.
  • Decision Making: Incorporating legislation, guidance, policy, professional, moral, and ethical considerations.
  • Disengagement and Breakaway Techniques: Safe and effective methods.
  • Restrictive Physical Interventions: Techniques ranging from single-person to two-person removals, escorts, and seated interventions.
  • Post-Incident Support, Management, and Reporting: Strategies to support staff and individuals after an incident.

 Compliance and Accreditation

  • HIQA's "National Quality Standards in Residential Care Settings for People with Intellectual Disabilities" (2013).
  • Health Act Regulations SI 367
  • The Mental Health Act 2001
  • HSE Mental Health Rights
  • HSE's "Linking Service and Safety" (2008).
  • Category 1 approval from the Nursing and Midwifery Board

Accredited by the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD). By being certified by Bild Association of Certified Training, we have demonstrated that our training services comply with the Restraint Reduction Network Training Standards. This is a rigorous process that is accredited by UKAS as meeting the ISO 17065:2012 standards for certification. You can check below to view our certification

The Department of Education's "Managing Behaviour in Schools Policy, Respect for All" (2015).

The Department of Education's "Educational Provision and Support for Persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorders: The Report of the Task Force on Autism."

Currently, the following programmes are available specifically designed for Adult Disability Services.

Click on a section below to view full details.


This programme is tailored for individuals who support adults with various developmental disabilities, encompassing Intellectual Disabilities, Autism, Attachment Disorder, or social vulnerability. These individuals may occasionally exhibit behaviours of concern, potentially leading to distressing or verbal and physical distressful behaviour.

Specifically, this programme is suitable for:

Direct support workers employed in day service, independent living arrangements, residential or respite centres, whether provided by HSE, voluntary bodies, or private agencies.

  • Healthcare Assistants (HCAs)
  • Social Care Workers
  • Nurses
  • Multidisciplinary Teams (MDT)

For further information, please request a brochure here.

This programme is meticulously designed to fulfill the mandatory requirements for all staff working in disability services. However, it goes beyond the basics by offering an opportunity for staff to delve into an in-depth case study focusing on service users experiencing significant distress. This aspect of the programme involves a thorough examination of the root causes and triggers behind their distressful behaviour.


PETMA firmly believes that individuals resort to distressful behaviour only when they lack the necessary skills or resources to cope with a situation. Thus, conducting this study enables staff to gain genuine insight into the reasons behind such behaviour. The trainer will guide the staff in developing hypotheses based on their findings. With this enhanced understanding, and potentially an additional fifth day of training, staff can explore the possibility of implementing a Positive Behaviour Support Plan.


For further information, please request a brochure here.


This programme is designed to equip learners with essential professional, ethical, and therapeutic competence, knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for preventing and/or supporting older persons when they experience distress. It aims to facilitate them to reach a calmer state while ensuring the safety of all involved.

The programme covers the following key modules:

  • Understanding Behaviour of Concern
  • Understanding Dementia and its Impacts
  • Support Strategies
  • Communication Techniques
  • Professional Aspects of Managing Distressful Behaviours
  • Legal Aspects of Managing Distressful Behaviours
  • Physical Component Module

This programme is aligned with the values and practices outlined in the HIQA National Quality Standards in Residential Care Settings for Older People 2007. Additionally, it adheres to the BILD Code of Practice for the use of Physical Interventions.

For further details, please request a brochure here.


This is a three-day programme, comprising of no less than 19 hours.  Full attendance is compulsory. 

PETMA™ is the only Irish based behaviour support model on the Island of Ireland, and one of the first models to successfully achieve BILD Act certification and Restraint Reduction Network Accreditation in both the UK and Ireland.

We are thrilled to announce that, in response to high demand, we are offering additional dates for our PETMA™ Train the Trainer (TTT) programme. Below are the details:


Programme Overview

The PETMA Train the Trainer (TTT) Programme will equip successful candidates to deliver our two-day PETMA foundation programme. Upon completion, candidates will conduct a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) within their own organisation. This will enable them to develop a bespoke foundation programme tailored to the specific needs of their organisation, utilizing a wide range of PETMA modules. Importantly, these programme will be developed within the framework of Restraint Reduction guidelines to ensure adherence to best practices in behaviour support.


Pre-requisites for Candidates

a) Experience:

Consultant trainers must have at least five years of sector experience, while in-house trainers must have a minimum of three years. NB. In-house trainers must be supported by their organisation which must be an affiliate organisation with PETMA™.


b) Certifications:

Up-to-date certificates in First Aid, Manual Handling, and CPR/BSL.


c) Teaching Qualifications:

Highly desirable to possess evidence of a teaching qualification or to successfully complete our NIIDS suite of online training modules.


Requirements for Candidates:

Upon successful completion of the PETMA™ Train the Trainer (TTT) Programme, candidates will be registered as Trainers with PETMA™. This registration includes providing evidence of passing both theoretical and physical teaching assessments.

Furthermore, candidates will be registered as Senior Trainers with PETMA™, which is covered by the programme cost. Additionally, candidates must also be registered as Senior Trainers with BILD ACT, once registered with PETMA™. However, an additional fee will be required for BILD ACT registration.


Continuous Professional Development (CPD):

All trainers are required to commit to annual updates and assessments to maintain their status as trainers.


Professional Indemnity Insurance:

Consultants Senior Trainers must have their own Professional Indemnity Insurance.


Obligations for Affiliate Organisations:

Organisations that adopt PETMA™ as a model of behaviour support will become Affiliate Organisations. Obligations include:

  • Signing a contract that must be read and interpreted in conjunction with the Restraint Reduction Network Training Standards, RRN scheme handbook, and the BILD ACT Certification Scheme customer handbook (copies available upon request).
  • Complying with the Scheme Handbook and Restraint Reduction Training Standards.
  • Maintaining and implementing a documented quality system that meets Scheme requirements.
  • Maintaining records of all complaints and evidence of any remedial action, accessible for review, with patient personal identifiable information removed, in accordance with the law.

A TNA is conducted before any training to determine if and what physical skills are relevant to the organisation. Participants must be sponsored by their organisations who will be required to agree to an MoU.


Next available dates are as follows.

Dates: April 25th, 26th 30th and May 1st and 2nd 2024

Closing date 1st April but would be great to let me know in advance of your intent to take places.

Venue: Springfield Hotel Leixlip. Co. Kildare


Interested – If you would like to Apply

Please click here to complete the application form

What is PETMA™ TTT? 

PETMA™ TTT presents a distinct behaviour support training approach for disability organisations, schools, and nursing homes in Ireland, which is HIQA compliant, standing out from other models which have flooded the market. While many of these models originated as staff self-defence courses, PETMA™ took a different approach by listening to service users' voices. This enabled the development of a behaviour support model centred on understanding, empathy, compassion, and collaboration with service users.

PETMA™ TTT empowers trainers to enact real change in classrooms, enabling them to deliver tailored content relevant to the individuals they support. Through conducting a Training Needs Analysis (TNA), trainers gain insight into the practical challenges and realities faced by staff daily. This knowledge allows them to deliver the 2-day Foundation Programme with a mix of mandatory modules and also to craft a customised training programme, drawing on our vast number of modules that addresses specific needs effectively.  


Click here for full information