SIRCC 2020 Online | It must be the blue cheese?

Year: 2020
Topic: Residential care, SIRCC
Author: Jim Anglin

Jim Anglin, PhD, is Professor Emeritus a the School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria, Canada, and Project Director and Research Associate, at the Cornell / LWB ARCARE project. Jim has over 45 years' experience working with and around the residential child care community and in 2019 he delivered a keynote presentation to the SIRCC 20th anniversary conference.

The aim of Jim's keynote was to put into context the Independent Care review, which at the point of the conference, was at the Journey stage. One year later The Review has concluded and Scotland has moved into the next phase, The Promise.

Prior to his keynote, Jim briefly looked at around 100 international reviews, and considered them based on 9 different characteristics. He concluded that this was indeed, a review like no other, particularly with regards to its origins of the experiences of children and young people and the experiences of those working in the care system. In addition, it had a group specifically to look at love and its place within the care system.

The Independent Care Review, in Jim's opinion, puts love at the heart of what we do.

We'd like to share some key moments of Jim's keynote with a view to generating discussion and reflection with your colleagues.

Stop doing things wrong!

Reflections and points for discussion

Jim reflects on the cyclical nature of reviews and that often things that we know not to work continue to happen. That policies are non-reductionist and limit workers ability to truly support young people in care. He suggests that we need to view both ourselves and young people as 'whole people'.

  1. Are there things that are done/ happen within your organisation that you believe don't work and should stop?
  2. What do you think the outcome would be if these things stopped happening?
  3. Do you think anything would need done in its place, and if so, do you have any suggestions for what that could be? What personal impact could you make to address these things?

What's love got to do with it?

Reflections and points for discussion

Jim suggests that Scotland has put the notion of love on the table in the context of child and youth care. He explains that the Ancient Greeks had a variety of words for love with at least nine different concepts. In this clip he discusses four of these concepts; Agape, Philia, Storge and Eros.

  1. Reflect on your own experience of love and loving relationships. How has your personal experiences influenced the way you interact and show love to others now?
  2. Can you identify the four different types of love discussed by Jim in your own relationships with others? How comfortable are you with the suggestion that you experience different types of love for the different people in our lives?

We can't legislate love

Reflections and points for discussion

Jim suggests that it is not possible to deny the existence of Eros within residential care, and the need for training, experience and supervision in order to maintain boundaries and a safe environment. He shares a reflection that the Independent Care Review has an opportunity to influence the policies and structures within which love can happen.

  1. If love is happening in a healthy way within residential care, what might you be hearing, seeing and feeling?
  2. Do you know the leadership perspective regarding love within your organisation? What supports are in place within your organisation and what could be done differently?
  3. Keeping the recommendations outlined in The Promise in mind; what policies and structures might Scotland put in place to promote healthy and appropriate love within the care system?

We have to learn to love, and be loved

Reflections and points for discussion

Jim offers caution around the notion of love within child and youth care, that this may be a difficult journey for some to learn to love and be loved. He considers this within the context of the Ubuntu sense of 'I am a person because you are'.

  1. Consider how the concept of love may have been used negatively with the children and young people you care for. What impact do you think this may have had on their development, approach to relationships and understanding of the world around them?
  2. How might you use your relationship with children and young people to support them to make sense of love, and experience this in a positive way? What supports might you need from your organisation to allow you to achieve this?
  3. How might you personally initiate and promote conversations about what it means to care for children and young people in a healthy way?

I never had a hug in 5 years...

Reflections and points for discussion

In this clip Jim discusses a study of retrospective reflections which evidenced a high correlation between young people living in a group home and a felt sense of an elemental or primal loss. The reflections highlighted the absence of feelings of love, family and connection, and the need for workers to find better ways of responding to pain and pain based behaviours.

  1. Consider how you would feel personally having a void of human connection via touch for a period of 5 years. What impact do you think this could have on a developing child or young person?
  2. What supports do you have or need in order to respond to your own experiences of pain based behaviour, whether they arise internally or via supporting others to become whole people?
  3. From the perspective of love healing the primal wound within the child or young person you care for; how might this influence your practice moving forward?

Who is Jim Anglin?

Professor Anglin began his career as a child and youth care worker in a mental health centre in Vancouver, after which he developed a 6-bed group home for young people in Victoria. Following this, Jim pursued graduate studies and worked in social policy before joining the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria where he is Emeritus Professor and former Director. Jim's major research interests have focused on a re-appreciation of residential care for children and young people and he is currently involved in researching the implementation and impact of a principle-based approach to residential care.

The full keynote from SIRCC 2019

SIRCC online 2020