SA Support Services envision providing quality therapeutic residential care services for South Australian youth. We believe our model of care, which draws from evidence informed theory and practice, applying positive behaviour support, trauma informed care, person centred practice and focus upon collecting necessary information from the young person, reports, screening and case formulation to ensure our services are tailored to the young person’s needs and goals.
Non-therapeutic models of residential care and a lack of focus on keeping children safe in institutions led to concerns about the negative impact of residential care upon children. As a result, in the 1970’s and 1980’s South Australia focused on deinstitutionalisation, in favour of family based and kinship care and as a result closed most residential care units. The pressure of finding suitable placements within family based foster care for young people with complex needs led to the resurgence of new models of residential care. In fact, it has been noted that alternative care systems that have tried to exist without diversity and residential care have failed to provide stability and continuity of care for young people (Hillan, 2005). Reflecting this resurgence, in 2015 there were 2394 children and young people in residential care in Australia.
Unfortunately, reviews suggest that residential care continues to be viewed by some to be the “end of the road” and a “last resort” for youth who have, due to challenging behaviours, “failed out” of less restrictive and ‘better quality environments’, such as foster homes or kinship care (Rivard et al. 2004). SA Living Solutions views this as regrettable as we believe quality therapeutic residential care has the potential to provide a level of structure, security and predictability often unavailable for youth managing emotional and behavioural issues in other settings. Hillan, (2005) notes that;
“Residential care cannot be seen as a last resort as this is a grossly unfair message to young people. It indicates that it is their fault they are in residential care and does not provide a sense that residential c are is a positive option for them, a decision made in the best interests of their life chances.”
As a South Australian NGO, with extensive experience providing supported accommodation for young men experiencing emotional, behavioural and forensic disability issues, we believe we are well placed to reach our vision of providing quality therapeutic residential care services for South Australian youth, leading people to now view our residential care as a ‘first choice’ option for many clients instead.
We value providing a caring environment for our clients, staff and the community.
We value the emotional and physical safety of our clients and our staff.
We respect and value each person’s contributions, views, and input into their own supports, their /strengths, uniqueness, beliefs, culture, religion, sexuality, and their experiences as well as promoting self-respect and respect between clients.
We value the potential in each person and aim to provide quality supports to assist people to identify and reach their potential.
Best life lived
We value and believe each person, regardless of the barriers they face, deserves to live their best life and experience ‘good life’ activities. Innovation We value and pride ourselves on striving to find new and creative ways to more effectively meet the needs of our clients and/or to provide services to clients where no other service does.
Accountability and Transparency
We value the importance of accountability and transparency for our stakeholders, clients, and staff.
The focus of therapeutic care is on supporting the young person to feel safe and to encourage a shift from a state of maladaptive survival responses and withdrawal (that may have applied when under threat, but are no longer helpful) to a place of healthy adaptation and engagement. This involves the development of skills such as distress tolerance, emotional regulation, capacity to trust and integration within the community. These are areas often absent, lagging, or disrupted due to experiences of childhood maltreatment, experiencing domestic violence, and/or incarceration.
The young people we support have varied, complex and ever-changing needs. As interventions are developed upon the basis of individual assessment of need and the young person’s goals and choices we need to be flexible, creative and use an eclectic array of therapeutic approaches and support methods. As a result, to be equipped to manage the variety and level of complexity within our service continuum, no singular approach can be applied.
Our therapeutic model was developed to provide best practice guidance and structure to our delivery of services and involves interweaving three main complementary approaches that share many core elements but have also their own approaches for specific issues young people in residential care face. These approaches interwoven into the therapeutic practices at SA Support Services: Positive Behaviour Support, Trauma Informed Care, and Person-Centred Practice – also drawing from risk assessment approaches and the Good Lives Model regarding reducing offending behaviours – whilst remaining open to drawing from other evidence based best practice methods as indicated to meet a young person’s needs.
The goals and issues the approaches are applied to include the young person being understood so best planning can occur, to be safe, to make connections and heal, including redeveloping helpful neural pathways after trauma, to have their needs met and develop emotional regulation and developmental skills to reach their goals and obtain quality of life.
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