The expectation of Pathways Ireland is that employees will at all times show complete respect for their clients, and behave in ways that empower and encourage the client to become independent.
The key points are:
•1. Advocacy: Ensuring you are delivering a service that is meeting the needs of the client as well as empowering clients to effectively use community services available to them.
•2. Promoting choice, independence, health and well-being, and respecting the decisions of the client.
•3. Contributing to care planning and review for individuals
•4. Focusing on positive achievable time specific outcomes. . Plans should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-specific)
•5. Contributing to the prevention and management of challenging behaviour.
•6. A focus on Collaboration
The very Beginning:
“The most valuable tool we have in therapeutic interventions with children and young people is ourselves”(Garfat,2004; Maier,1991; Trieschman, Whittaker & Brentro, 1969”) TCI Edition 6
Pathways Ireland employee are valued because they are rare, unique and inimitable. For this reason it is important to focus on the quality of your relationships with young people, and to strive to use the tools available to avoid ‘empathy fatigue’ or ‘burnout’.
Social care workers can often be personally hurt by the behaviours of their clients.
Cooper, F 2012 states:
“Many clients who are in the social care system suffer from a lack of boundaries… If they have had poor parenting they may not understand what boundaried relationship is… People who have been hurt or abused will often act out their feelings and push or ignore boundaries pathologically” pp34
The Question we need to ask ourselves is: Does Time heal all wounds, or do we carry them from one relationship to the next? This same applies to Social Care Workers
Areile M, 1997 Outlines some of the hurtful events that can be experienced by Social Care Staff
“Claire: I asked a child to help me move some benches. This is a boy I have known for 5 years, since he was six, and I am quite fond of him. He said ‘get lost old woman!’. I was devastated but I didn’t give up. Then he said ‘Go do it yourself. That’s what you’re paid for isn’t it?’ I don’t know if he did it deliberately to hurt me or whether it was just an outburst in a moment of anger and frustration, but in any case I felt very humiliated. Why would he talk like that to someone who is devoted to him?”
“Ephraim: When I got angry they parroted my words, while the rest of the group served as their audience, laughing at me. What I felt then could be described as utter humiliation: 10 and 11-year old children making me look like a fool”
Sometimes social care workers can find ways to justify reasons to keep an emotional distance from a child in order to protect themselves from further hurt…
Shaver ,P (2008)
“A problem was that all too often residential care staff adopted an emotionally detached style to prevent children from becoming too distressed when a staff member had to leave”
Whittaker, J.( 1997) Stated:
“Institutions do little more than warehouse children”
Coping with young peoples fears and pain:
Deciding to work with a child and to be brave enough to develop a real trusting relationship requires patience and understanding. We need to look beyond the behaviour and help the young person with the unmanageable feelings they are trying to convey.
Winnicott 1965 focused on early parental relationships with infants where children are helped by their carers to move from a state of dependency towards independence. He believed ‘the holding environment’ was a crucial aspect in this process.
The holding environment is usually provided by the mother, both physically and emotionally, where she holds her child’s powerful feelings until the child is gradually enabled to learn to do this for himself.
Bion 1962 spoke about “containment”. Unmanageable feelings and deepest anxieties are “projected” onto the care giver who must feel them for him/her before handing them back in a manageable way. This is the task of the Social Care Worker.
Opportunity-led-work is of utmost importance when caring for young people. If a young person begins to talk about difficult feelings or memories, allow them the attention, space and time to do this. It may feel more comfortable to distract or comfort a child rather than to hear or feel their pain. However, this may be the child’s final leap of faith in trusting a adult with their feelings, or could be a ‘test’ for further disclosures.
The importance of Emotional Availability:
“Children may somehow physically survive awful deprivation and cruelty, but be left with emotional scars which remain with them throughout their lives, even when the deprivation and cruelty have stopped... no child can grow up in a care vacuum...
Therapeutic settings concentrate on providing carefully adapted environments to nurture severely deprived children and to provide the specialised living environment that is required for some recovery to take place ” (Lanyado, in Ward et al 2003)
Children referred to us are complex, but have three things in common.
One is that they are all victim in some way to the failures of the relationships with the key adults in their lives: relationships that have failed to meet their emotional and developing needs either at key points in their lives or throughout.
The second is that they continue in some way to cope with the consequence of their earlier deprivation, loss, separation, trauma or abuse... They affect the young person’s capacities to learn or be taught, to be looked after, to join in normal social activities, make friends, or try to be hopeful about the future.
The third is that it can be assumed that they are at some stage of bereavement/grief/loss.
A crucial part of the care task will be to provide young people with the opportunities to form relationships that are positive: successful futures will depend upon this. Moreover, these relationships will need to impact on them in a way that will challenge their pessimistic and incongruous assumptions about themselves and others, and to be experienced as loveable, creative and worthwhile” ( Worthington in Ward et al 2003)
The importance of Role Modelling:
Michael Ungar (2012) speaks of the importance of positive role models for building lasting resilience. “(Werner & Smith 2001) followed the lives of nearly 700 multicultural children of plantation workers living in poverty on the Hawaiian island of Kawai. By the age of eighteen about two thirds had done poorly as predicted, with early pregnancy, need for mental health services, or trouble in school or with the law.
However, one third of those at-risk had developed into competent, caring and confident young adults with the capacity to “Work well, play well, love well, and expect well”…most often crediting supportive relationships or religious involvement (belonging and community). These findings have important clinical implications, revealing the potential, despite troubled childhood or teen years for later developing resilience across the life course.
Role Modelling to Promote Resilience:
Definition of Resilience (Luthar et al., 2000; Masten & Reed, 2002; Rutter, 1999)
Resilience refers to a class of phenomena characterized by good outcomes in spite of serious threats to adaptation or development. Resilience has been characterized as the ability to:
“bounce back” and cope effectively in the face of difficulties”
“bend, but not break under extreme stress”
“rebound from adversities”
“handle setbacks, persevere and adapt even when things go awry”
“maintain equilibrium following highly aversive events”
In short, resilience turns victims into survivors and allows survivors to thrive.
The best documented asset of resilience is a strong bond to a competent and caring adult, which need not be a parent. For children who do not have such an adult involved in their life, it is the first order of business …
Children also need opportunities to experience success at all ages (Masten & Reed, 2002). The
availability of close social support, better educational experience and a higher sense of self-worth. Good
relationships with pro-social adults and an ability to problem solve and make sense of what has
happened are critical factors in promoting resilience (Seden, 2002) There is a close relationship between developing resilience and opportunity for positive experiences
(Walsh, 1996) states that the crucial influence of significant relationships stands out across many studies. Individual resilience was encouraged by bonds with kin, intimate partners and mentors such as coaches and teachers who supported their efforts, believed in their potential and encouraged them to make the most of their lives” pp 174