Beyond containment: driving change in residential care : a Queensland, Australia model of therapeutic residential care

Wall, Shelley and Redshaw, Stewart and Edwards, Kym (2013) Beyond containment: driving change in residential care : a Queensland, Australia model of therapeutic residential care. Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care, 12 (1). ISSN 1478-1840

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Mercy Family Services is a Non-Government Organisation providing a range of out of home care services, including one 'therapeutic residential' and 12 traditional residential care programmes across South East Queensland, Australia. This paper will examine the implementation of a model of therapeutic residential care developed to address a gap in service delivery identified in the Crime and Misconduct Commission: An Inquiry Into Abuse In Foster Care in January 2004, which found there was a need for more therapeutic treatment programmes in order to assist children and young people with severe psychological and behavioural problems (Crime and Misconduct Commission, 2004). Traditional residential care, with a focus on daily care provision and containment, had limited success in meeting this client group's complex needs and it was apparent that a trauma informed model that sought to provide a 'healing' therapeutic milieu was a sector priority. The paper will provide an overview of the Mercy Family Services' therapeutic residential care model recently implemented in the final of four pilot programmes across Queensland, Australia. Further, the learning gained from the process of development of the model, informed by contemporary literature from within Australia and beyond, will be shared, along with the exciting developments emerging as practice is transformed and influences improvements across our entire network of residential programmes. This paper will explore how the historical context of residential care in Queensland, Australia influenced the development of a model of therapeutic residential service delivery developed to meet the challenge of driving change in an environment where containment models and poor outcomes had resulted in a decline in popularity of residential care. The paper will also detail the Mercy Family Services Therapeutic Residential Care model, a community of care approach that is underpinned by a needsbased, trauma-sensitive, and relationship/attachment-focused framework developed by Dr Redshaw, in response to an opportunity to pilot therapeutic residential care commissioned by the Department of Child Safety after recommendations arising from an inquiry intoabuse in foster care conducted in Queensland in 2004. Finally, the paper will share learning experiences from the implementation of the model into practice and initial outcomes for the young people placed during the first year of operation.

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