12 September 2023

New pilot report on holding in residential child care

The University of Strathclyde has published ‘An Appreciative Inquiry into Holding in Residential Child Care: Pilot Report’ by Senior Lecturer Dr Laura Steckley and Lee Hollins from the University’s Department of Social Work and Social Policy, and CELCIS’s Improving Care Experiences Consultant Sarah Deeley and Education Consultant Michael Bettencourt.

In identifying its research priorities, members of the Scottish Physical Restraint Action Group (SPRAG) repeatedly referred to how little information is available about what is working well in residential child care in relation to physical restraint, particularly when care workers and children manage to avert a physical restraint. While data is collected to track physical restraints, there is no current mechanism to collect information when restraint is averted. This pilot was developed to address this gap, and as the foundation for a larger study.

The study set out to identify and explore key factors in reducing or eliminating physical restraint, as well as in the successful holding, both metaphoric and literal, of children and young people in distress. Using a method called Appreciative Inquiry, the researchers interviewed care and education workers from two residential child care services, adults with care experience, and family members and the study reports on the dominant themes identified through interviews. Rather than focusing on problems, Appreciative Inquiry is an opportunity to learn from positive incidents, and to then develop the solutions that can help workers and organisations to improve.

The report offers reflections, as well as messages for practice, based on the findings.

Read the Pilot Report