YOUTH CARE “All young people

deserve the chance to achieve a bright future.”

confidence and the opportunities to express themselves and their talents. With these foundations in place, care services can focus on their hopes and aspirations, oſten giving rise to invaluable insight which informs the task of planning for adult life.

Many of the core principles of adult care also apply to care for children: person-centred support, the teaching of daily living skills and providing opportunities for greater community and social inclusion are all key drivers in personal development. When therapy is required, Heathcotes advocate programmes are integrated within the everyday residential setting, rather than provided in isolation. The skills learnt in therapy sessions should be reinforced in day-to-day life with the support of carers who are trained in the principles of the therapy. In our experience, this greatly increases engagement and understanding, thereby accelerating progress.

Person-centred care - maximising one-to-one support at every stage - is fundamental in establishing the trust of young people with learning disabilities or mental health issues. The process is improved by high staff retention: when support is consistently provided by the same carers over time, the continuity maintains feelings of trust and security. This environment gives children the

Although it’s the statutory responsibility of the placing authority to provide education for a young person, it’s important that care providers offer support. There is a severe lack of specialist children’s provision throughout the UK, so young people invariably have to be placed away from their local area. Their social worker is unlikely to have local connections and it can be problematic and very time- consuming for them to find suitable educational provision. With the strategic development of a wider support network, care providers can step up to help them – for example, at Heathcotes we have an ongoing arrangement with specialist tutors which ensures that young people can be provided with a broad range of education immediately on taking up their place with us. In the longer term, we work with the social worker to look for a more permanent arrangement in a school or college that has the specific provision to meet the young person’s needs. Forward-thinking care providers nurture links with local specialist and mainstream schools, as well as close working relationships with local colleges that can offer a variety of courses and support young people into apprenticeships, opening up a route to employment.

Care providers can play a proactive role in enabling young people to access other career opportunities as they approach adulthood. It is important to provide encouragement in reaching out to potential employers, searching for suitable vacancies, signposting them to professional support, such as Job

Centre + and any other local provision, that could help them secure employment or an apprenticeship. Person-centred care enables an understanding of each child’s personal qualities and aptitudes which can help to identify which type of employment and work environment are most suitable.

The placing authority will usually take a lead role in finding independent living for a young person entering adulthood, but residential care providers should always offer support and input. Our knowledge of the locality is a useful resource and our relationship with service users enables them to meaningfully articulate to us their hopes and aspirations about where they would like to live. That means that we’re well placed to advocate on their behalf and support t

In certain circumstances, oſten when a young person reaches 18, a transfer of care plan is required. Along with requiring an age-appropriate setting, there may also be a review of the level of support required or the young person may have a desire to return to their home area. In such cases, the two care providers must work closely together to streamline the transition. Heathcotes usually manage a robust transition period which involves our support staff working alongside supporters from the other provider. We provide them with all the care plan information they require to ensure a smooth transition and consistent approach. Once the individual has transferred, we continue to offer our support and guidance for a suitable period and are always available by telephone if they require any further information.

For adults and children alike, specialist residential care services represent a vital bridge to a more independent life within a community-based setting. For children, the journey can take more time and require increased levels of support, but the rewards are every bit as worthwhile. All young people deserve the chance to achieve a bright future – as care providers, we can make a pivotal contribution towards that achievement for children whose pathway is more challenging than most. - 43 -

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