evaluations & post training comments


developing positive relationships

It is very common for people to assume they know what we do - people say:

I have been on a course like that!

However, we do things differently …

D.ESCAL8™ (pronounced de-escalate) was formed in 2013.

While it is easy to say we are different, don't take our word for it - the following testimonials highlight the differences and the positive impact of our training.

Online Workshop Testimonials

Here is my comparison to other training I've received

I found the training from De-escalate unique from anything else I have done. It takes a unique perspective, which will definitely change my approach in how I support service users.

Really enjoyed it all. Thanks again

P.W. Development Worker

Development Worker

As expected, Des was very approachable and welcoming, consideration was paramount in adhering the COVID-19 requirements, even with the restrictions being lifted, he ensured the environment was safe for all attendees.

As I have previously been a trainer in PBM, much of the theory base is what I had expected with some differences in style of approach which offered food for thought, whereas, the physical interventions taught appeared in practice to be less complex than previously taught techniques  but as effective, with the emphasis always on the least restrictive.

Des made the training fun, interesting and thought provoking. Look out for the ‘scenarios’!!

T.C. Consultant Learning Disability Nurse

Consultant Learning Disability Nurse

I attended the 3 day course delivered by Des. Des was extremely engaging and facilitated the 3 days very well. The 3 days were challenging and thought provoking but Des delivers the training with such skill that all trainees appeared relaxed and able to learn.

I have been an instructor of PBS training as part of my role, including the theory and physical techniques, for many years,  so prior to the course I was looking forward to seeing some alternative techniques. I approached the course interested to see some alternative physical interventions. The theory element was pretty much similar to what I deliver but the alternative physical techniques I was very impressed with and after 30 years of working within this area and having attended many physical intervention training packages over the years I have to say this course has really made me think about the overall approach to physical interventions. I believe all staff would benefit from attending this training, even if they have vast experience of delivering PBS training and physical interventions.  

M.T. Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Des made a huge difference to Woodbridge Park. We have been on a rapid journey towards a more holistic, trauma-informed approach with our children and young people; moving away from traditional black and white behaviourist principles. Des joined us at the right time in this journey and provided some intensive staff support and training which has had a significant impact on our procedures and on staff practice. Thanks to Des’ calm, reassuring manner, our staff engaged intently with training and it was clear that many had a few ‘light bulb’ moments when it all suddenly made sense.

Des inspired and motivated our whole service to think differently about behaviour and to focus on what is really going on with a child or young person. As a result of Des’ support, we have developed a trail-blazing pupil induction and targeted support toolkit which clearly identifies underlying causes of negative behaviours and personal triggers. We revised our Development Plan to focus on trauma, attachment and reducing staff and pupil stress and anxiety and focused all our energies in approaching children and young people with curiosity, not judgment. Since 2018, our challenging behaviour incidents have fallen around 50%, our fixed-term exclusions have reduced from over 100 per year to less than 15, with no pupils; for over a year; with more than one exclusion. Our school attendance has also improved over the last two years and we remain above national averages. Des was part of this success and this journey and we cannot speak highly enough about him, his energy and approach.

Headteacher, Alternative Provision Service

Headteacher, Alternative Provision Service

Thank you for the training courses that you have delivered and continue to deliver for us at Havencare.

I do not think “course” does D.ESCAL8 justice. I would use the term “experience”.

It is an experience that helps shape staff alignment with the right values, the right understanding, and the right practices; whilst developing awareness and empathy of self and others. Courses give certificates (and D.Escal8 certification does still tick all the right boxes for regulation and best practice), but it is the experience of D.Escal8 that brings legacy.

Unlike other programmes we have used in the past, this learning is unapologetically “real”. Learning is cemented in long-term memory by inciting emotion in participants, enabling understanding of their own personal reactions in challenging circumstances, and building the skills and confidence to help keep people safe.

If Government, NHS England and Local Authorities are committed to “Transforming Care” for the most vulnerable and poorly treated people with learning disabilities and autism (many currently held in ill-equipped and restrictive assessment and treatment units (ATUs) and secure hospitals), the legacy of your programme delivery is exactly what the sector needs to help us move forward with sustainable quality, dignity and respect.

I look forward to continuing our work together in the future.

P.M. Charity CEO

Chief Executive Oficer

I have previously been on, what I thought to be, 'similar' courses that have dealt with de-escalating pressured situations and 'behaviours'. I was very pleasantly surprised right from the beginning of the course because instead of a focus on the behaviour the focus was always person-centred and on the distress the individuals may be experiencing. This puts a totally different spin on things and makes a lot more sense. I have, in the past, had to try and use some physical intervention techniques, however they were less than successful because the training didn't take into account the individuals' needs.

Des packs in so much relevant information and experience into the 3 days, keeping it upbeat and interesting and engendering a safe, comfortable environment in which to learn.

In these COVID-19 times, he enabled us to be safe while still covering the majority of his normal course.

I could listen to Des all the time, and still feel like he has more to teach and share.

A.R. Teacher


I have learned a great deal on the course.  Not only how to remain calm in certain circumstances but understanding why they may arise.  Despite having many years working in education, this course gave me a new perspective and a different way to look and understand things such as ACEs.

C.M. Teacher


I highly recommend this superb training provided by Des Cooke of D.ESCAL8. Having attended various forms of PBM and PBS training during my 20 year career in the Social Care sector, the Supporting Individuals in Distress course was by far the most impressive and useful I have received. The content and delivery was challenging, motivating, inspiring and fun.

Feedback from staff is that Des’s training has made a significant difference to the way they work, more so than any other training they have received. There has been a significant decrease in serious incidents and when these happen they are managed well.

We at Freeways have developed an excellent working relationship with Des which goes beyond the training session. The training he provides is second to none and is delivered with a good understanding of the complexities involved in supporting people who communicate through their behaviour. Training is paced to meet the learning needs and styles of each and every course participant and there is a healthy balance between theory and practice. I would recommend D.ESCAL8 to any organisations who want to ensure Positive Behaviour Support is an intrinsic part of their approach to enable people to live full and meaningful lives.



Having attended many PBM training course over the past four years in previous organisation, I was amazed at the detail and delivery of the training. I thought that the training brought PBS, into the modern age and it is great to see that there is training out there, that is designed to keep the individual in distress in control and not designed for staff to take control away from said individual. I feel that this course needs to be wide spread across the entire care sector and not just individualise organisations.



After attending the three day course run by Des, I was found the course enlightening, person-centred and I felt that it has brought PBS into the modern day care system. I have previously attended PBM with my previous organisation and upon comparing that to Des PBS, I found PBM outdated and all about taking control away from the individuals I support. For that reason alone i think PBS needs to be industry spread within the care sector.



The course was absolutely fantastic it has really changed my approach to behaviour management and had lots of practical ideas to implement in school. Being given background information/knowledge has enabled me to further understand how and why my pupils may be in distress and how to prevent situations escalating to crisis point. I have been using the low level interventions such as distraction techniques and this really works!!

Thanks so much, what a brilliant 3 days



This week I attended the 3 day DPR course with Des and thoroughly enjoyed the whole course.

The practical side of the course really gave me the chance to put into practice things I may have to carry out in my line of work.

Learning all the background information into developing positive relationships I found extremely interesting and learning techniques to keep myself safe whilst at work will be extremely beneficial.

I would love to be able to attend more courses with Des in the future. Des really knows his stuff and I enjoyed learning from him.



The Building Positive Relationships With People In Distress was the best training I have ever been on! Over 3 days I felt like I absorbed so much information and actually retained it, something which is a lot harder to do in a regular one day of training.

Each day builds on the concepts Des talks about, whilst constantly revisiting and linking them all together. It was great to see how everything intertwined and it made the bigger picture a lot clearer. It also gave me a stronger understanding of what individuals in distress are experiencing, and how we as staff influence this. Des used situations in our own lives to bring this home and help us see things through their eyes even more. This theoretical background and understanding is vital when considering learning physical intervention, something with Des makes obvious and clear throughout his training.

I was not entirely sure what to expect when starting the course, and thought I would simply be learning how to get out of wrist grabs etc. However the depth of knowledge and experience that Des shared blew me away, and I can honestly say it was an absolute privilege to learn from him. He was patient, thorough, approachable and you could tell he had the utmost respect for the people we support. Des’ passion for the work we do and willingness to share this was inspiring and uplifting. I could not recommend this course more!



I thoroughly enjoyed this three-day course Building Positive Relationships with people in distress. Des’ teaching methods are engaging, informative, clear, and fun.
He was able to put across complex information in a manner that was easy to grasp and remember. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the section on the law and how quickly I was able to remember the principal points through Des’ simple four point system designed to assist a worker assess a difficult situation quickly. I have
since used this quick method of assessment under stress and was able to remember and use it accurately and effectively.
Each of the three days builds one upon the other, and so it is vital to attend all three days. I was impressed by the manner in which Des structured these days to enable us to grasp not only his philosophy of how to work with people in distress but also how to take these principles and apply them more generally. Des’ teaching is all based around developing and maintaining a good and positive relationship with the people that we work with and how to maintain that even when things become difficult. I feel very encouraged and empowered by the techniques that Des has taught me.
On the last day we looked at physical interventions, the ‘last resort’ in a difficult situation. Des’ philosophy and method held true in these situations as well and we learned many useful ways of working and also looked at service structure and policies to help in these situations.
I have had a lot of training throughout my working life and I can honestly say this was by far the best that I have received.
Thank you, Des!



It really was one of the best training courses I have ever attended! Des was very knowledgeable, enthusiastic and responsive to the group and business needs. The biggest part for me was the ethos that came across throughout the course- moving into the social model of care, it is vital that staff attitude is genuinely person centred and considers their own conceptions about behaviour. De-escal8 captured this brilliantly and has improved my understanding of my own emotion and behaviours so that I can truly support individuals who display signs of distress. It was extremely refreshing to have the psychological and physical impact of working with people packaged together. It made a huge impact on the way I understand the need for emotional and physical intervention. If you are looking for a thorough training needs analysis, delivery of a course that is bespoke, training that enriches service delivery, builds confidence in staff and moves towards the social model of care I would highly recommend this training.



I have attended training facilitated by Des Cooke on several occasions. I am continually impressed by his knowledge, enthusiasm and creativity. In my experience, he is an authority and an innovator in the fields of learning disability, challenging behaviour and Autism. I would highly recommend his services.



I highly recommend the training to any professional who works with children where their presentation needs to be safely managed in such a way that actually supports that young person and staff. The training was very refreshing, providing new ways to manage a range of behaviours. This is done by first fully understanding the Young Persons needs through close analysis of ‘why’ the Young Person presents in a particular way. We were also able to link presentation to other issues such as sensory, communication and also routines. By fully understating this first, we are able to taylor our approach resulting in incidents being carefully and safely managed. By understanding first the person’s needs, we were able to taylor our approach to de-escalate before any physical intervention. The ethos around any physical intervention has been well thought out and tested. The training was delivered very well and has supported my ability as a practitioner so keep myself and the Young People safe.



I have to say that in our profession we are often given models of intervention to use and the theory behind them, but applying them in reality often fails. Your course helped me challenge my own belief system in understanding the psychological impact of ‘power’ in applying re-enforcement theory for children and young people with Learning disabilities. Your course provides a realistic interpretation of the work environment and how to remain calm and it certainly tests participants! Listening to your own experience and your realistic role plays certainly causes you to reflect on your own practice and how you will go forward to help carers in their roles. Thank you.



I have just completed 3 days training with De-escal8. I am always interested in innovative practice and the consideration of new approaches which this training certainly delivers. Des (the facilitator) has extensive real life experience, as well as sound underpinning knowledge all of which he imparts in an engaging and supportive manner. This has given me the confidence to continue to think ‘outside the box’ and reduced my anxiety about situations I might encounter. Anyone who works in the care industry or education should, in my opinion, do this training as a matter of course, but it will also benefit many other independent practitioners like myself. Thank you so much, I found it a hugely enjoyable and enlightening 3 days - time well spent!



Firstly apologies for my late feedback, I wanted time to reflect and digest what we learnt and how it compared to previous training i have had.

So: My previous experience of this type of training is built upon Skip and more recently PBM, in both cases I have managed packages of support that provide support to people who often found themselves in distressing situations and in all of my previous training we reverted to crisis management. When I first experienced PBM I described it as advanced compared to Skip, but essentially the results were the same - staff decide when somebody is in crisis and when to redirect them. I think the day to day work involved with PBM is spot on, establish primary and secondary responses to known behaviours and triggers does tend to keep people from distressing situations. It is the crisis management laden with defensive stances, that feels like a change. I never questioned it until d.escal8 and then it hit me like a sudden awakening. To treat a crisis in the same way as your prevention strategies makes this training truly holistic and now I have registered it it is the only way I can see physical interventions passing the ‘mum test’ - I would want my relatives treated with this level of respect.

In terms of the training I felt that Des was outstanding, he worked hard to bring the whole group off our emotional baseline and then taught us how to cope and react without affecting anybodies dignity. Initially I felt the group were hesitant and didn’t necessarily get it (myself included) but by the end of day 3 we were all engaged and mopping it up. In a previous role I was given some really great coaching by PBM tutors that were very thorough in ensuring we practised techniques over and over. However it wasn’t until my first real incident that I used any of the techniques and rather predictably my training went out the window and I reacted in my own distress. I learnt from that and adapted my approach, but with all of the teams I worked with going through similar experiences I know that scores of people would have used unlicensed techniques and justified it in the name of experience. By taking us off baseline Des gave us the opportunity to have that first experience in a safe environment and i felt that the whole group went away much more emotionally self aware.

Many thanks for an enlightening 3 day workout.



I have been working in care for 12 years. In that time I have been trained with a number of companies delivering training on de-escalation techniques and physical restraint procedures.
Since moving more formally into the disability sector and becoming a service manager I have been struck by how inappropriate these methods are to children with a learning disability and autism. They neither take into account the additional difficulties these children face or the impact these difficulties can have on behaviour. They also do not consider the stress that restraint puts on that child leading to possible further escalation.
As a manager I now get to decide what training to have and when D.ESCAL8 was suggested to me I admit to thinking “what’s new?” I felt that this was another programme designed for ‘naughty children’. When I spoke to Des I understood the ethos but it sounded a bit ‘pie in the sky’.
When I finally commissioned some bespoke training in September 2015 I ate my words. I was impressed with the content, the presentation, the personalisation of information and the unique ability of the trainer to humanise the work we do.
I immediately commissioned another full course to train my entire staff team to ensure that we all signed up to this way of working. To understand where behaviour comes from and how to respond appropriately and sensitively. I enjoyed the confidence that came from this and the realisation that sometimes to walk away, ‘give in’ and ‘not win’ were all considered ‘best practice’. This changed the mind-set of the staff team. They suddenly felt empowered and re-connected with the way they feel they should be looking after disabled children.
More than a month after training the staff are still buzzing. They have used this and I am heartened to hear them talking about behaviour and planning for behaviour in the way the training has taught them. Ofsted also visited us the day after we completed the training and were impressed with our decision to step outside the mould for Plymouth and commission such an innovative training course for what is and will always be a very sensitive and delicate area of care for such a vulnerable group of children.
I am delighted to say that this training has transformed a tired and anxious team into a positive and confident one.



I was quite enthusiastic about the school adopting the de-escalate approach to managing our behaviour after the training as I felt the training for me had quite an emotional impact on the way we as a school manage our pupils.

When attending the training the 3 days with all the written, law and practical elements I felt that our County as a whole should adopt the approach as it not only managed the behaviour of pupils but also had an emphasis on the impact that dealing with these behaviours can have on staff and quite often this is forgotten.

The pupils are supported by our staff very well I feel but quite often I don’t think there is time spent with staff members after dealing with these behaviours and incidents properly. This training gave clear strategies for dealing with them and during the training It was also beneficial to role play active and non-active listening... a method which can be adopted in all areas of the school not just with the behaviour side.

The role play was extremely powerful and again put you in the situation many of our pupils feel daily. I felt the training tied in nicely with our attachment and nurture elements that we are leading in and by combing the two can only continue to hopefully improve our practice.

The course was delivered very well and covered all areas of behaviours that we experience in school therefore being extremely relevant.



Having recently taken part in a Descal8 training I am astounded by what I gained out of it. Des made the training so much fun and delivered it in such a way that it was remembered. Only today myelf and a colleague choose subconsciously to use what we had been taught and just as in the training ————————- it worked!!!!. Brilliant (if exhausting) training course, I am happy to recommend it to anyone who thinks or feels that they need this knowledge.



I recently attended the 3 day DPR course ran by Des. As somebody who has worked in the special educational needs and care sectors for 15 years and delivers physical intervention training for another company myself, I have seen some excellent and some not so excellent courses and trainers.

I have to say it was a privilege to watch Des work. Things that stood out for me were the passion and positivity he has for his work in developing confident and competent staff, to ensure the best outcomes for the people that we support; the attention to detail when delivering the physical skills elements of the course and the intensity that he maintained throughout, ensuring we were always focused and engaged.

Many of the participants were very experienced staff members and all commented that it was the best training they had ever had. I certainly will be taking things away that I believe will improve both my own working practices and my training delivery.



I have had the opportunity to attend courses that updated me on current legislation of managing individuals with challenging behaviour. These courses told me how to respond to negative and unwanted behaviours. Whilst protecting myself from physical harm. Information outlined enabled policies and procedures to be reviewed and updated. If this is what you are looking for Descal8 Training courses are NOT for you.

However, if you want to experience an enthusiastic, positive, supportive and effective approach to supporting behavioural issues, then I recommend you find time to spend three days in the company of Mr Des Cooke. Descal8 developed my confidence to change my way of thinking; question my actions and alter my working practice when faced with an individual who had the need to communicate their emotions physically. I learnt how to be proactive rather than reactive to a situation, and learnt strategies that I have found effective and can implement in the commotion of a heightened situation.

Des provided me with the insight to support my colleagues and reflect on each incident with an objective, practical resolve. Enabling me to examine each event with the team, using the key principles to reduce physical interaction and significantly reduce the stress that physical engagement incurs along with the risks faced by clients, colleagues and myself.

The passionate presentation was refreshing, engaging and memorable. Descal8’s ethos continues to have a positive influence on my working practice 6 months on. I have recommended this training to professional colleagues on several occasions because of the positive behavioural changes I have experienced as a direct result of the training. If you have any doubts in your current management of behavioural issues, then you need to complete the three-day training course as soon as you can.



The course was everything I expected and more. We have previously used a different company, however we decided to change providers because following the previous training, on the rare occasion a team member had needed to use the techniques, they had been unable to remember them. Following this course, all staff felt confident they would remember the procedures! This was mainly because they had actually practised all of the techniques during ‘as close to real life as possible’ role plays. I highly recommend this course!

R.S. - Board Certified Behaviour Analyst & DIRECTOR

Board Certified Behaviour Analyst & DIRECTOR

Really excellent course and Des is an exceptional Facilitator and Trainer. The three days were extremely challenging and thought provoking but also really enjoyable and clearly vital for anyone working with vulnerable individuals. Des puts the relationship first and his techniques help to question established approaches where the needs of those in the care of others is sometimes lost due to behaviour or environments that can be challenging. Highly recommend it to any employer providing care services to vulnerable individuals.



I have just attended the 3 day course with Des Cooke. I walked in thinking I have done this before and won’t get much out of the course, how wrong could I be!

Des was so receptive to our needs and provided useful information that applied to our setting and didn’t just deliver a syllabus.

The course really focuses on a child centred approach and gives you the confidence to not use physical intervention! A lot of the previous courses I have attended focus on the use of physical intervention and restrictive practice, not D.ESCAL8! To be honest this is the only one that I can be confident it will do what is best for the children I work with. There are no restrictive restraints used and that has to be good for our relationships with the young people we work with.

Des used his extensive knowledge and not just from books, but from practical application in front line roles. He has done what he teaches and knows it works. That knowledge gave me the confidence to really engage with and learn throughout the course. I have had very similar training from Des’ previous work place (Studio3), but Des has taken his prior knowledge and improved the whole course content. He has thought about the impact of even the slightest movement and how it can impact negatively on the people you work with and changed it for the better. Relationship between staff and pupil has to be the most important element of this kind of intervention, with D.ESCAL8 and Des it is. I know as an organisation we will be working closely with D.ESCAL8 and Des to ensure all staff have the benefit of the training I have had.



I found my training experience with De-Escalate to be extremely valuable. It is evidence based, clearly explained and taught and the situation is always seen from the point of view of the distressed person as well which really helps. I would very much like to do more of this training and if I can I will definitely be back. Thanks so much.



Bristol Area Open Workshop

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Autumn 2024 TBC

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Restraint Reduction Network

  • Research Based
  • Physical & Emotional Safety
  • Behavioural at the core

Our Foundation course, 'Supporting Individuals in Distress,' is Certified by the Restraint Reduction Network Training Standards that are administered by BILD - they can be found here