Following a review of residential child care in 2007, the health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland introduced ‘therapeutic approaches’ in a number of children’s homes and in the regional secure units.
These approaches can help residential child care staff in their day-to-day social work with children and young people.
Staff who were trained in therapeutic approaches reported that this training had improved their practice, particularly in their relationships with young people and their consistent way of approaching this.
Young people in residential child care often noticed an improved ‘atmosphere’ and the use of fewer punishments to deal with poor behaviour, even if they did not notice that a new approach was being used.
Factors that helped put these approaches into practice included training staff, offering follow-up supporting materials, and developing wider systems of working that support the approaches – for example careful planning when a young person is first admitted to a home.