Roots and Wings – the power of strong relationships

By – Colin Steedman

The time had come for one of our young people to move on. He had reached a stage whereby further progressing his independence meant transferring to alternative accommodation. There was a sense of nervous anticipation, and we were aware the young person was unsettled about his departure. He knew it was time to move on, but was strongly connected to Care Visions, and wrestling with what lay ahead. Care Visions was his home, but it was time to leave the nest.

Both the young person and staff were dealing with a range of emotions. The team knew saying goodbye was not going to be easy. To manage the process safely, and ensure as seamless a transition as possible, would require drawing upon the strength of their relationships with him, and each other.

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change” – We needed to take a fresh look at our approach, and create an environment where we could openly explore the change, and deal with the mix of emotions involved, in a safe way. The priority had to be the young person, and ensuring that ending his placement here created a positive sense of future opportunities. We needed to celebrate the growth and change we’d experienced in this incredible young man.

The team worked together to express and make sense of their own feelings. This was important, as it allowed us to create a transition plan based on the content of the Sanctuary Model. The framework for the team to work from was identified as Safety, Emotions management, Loss, and Future; SELF. We were determined to make his leaving us a positive transition, and this is how we used SELF to do that:

Safety: We continued to ensure that he felt safe, whilst building a relationship with his new placement through visits with team members, as well as members of his own family. Opportunities were created for him to share how he felt, and we supported him in making the considerable adjustments in preparation for leaving. This took time, and patience.

Emotions: We frequently explored how and why these significant life changes might be affecting him, using tools such as: Community Meetings and Feeling Boards, to create opportunities for dialogue. We supported him in expressing his feelings and to develop ways of managing emotion as part of his self-care plan.

Loss: We talked about how change always brings feelings of loss, and in doing so created opportunities for him, and us, to express feelings of loss regarding his transition. We helped create a realistic vision of what his future life could hold, and gradually prepared him for the huge emotional and psychological shift he would experience. We even reflected upon the changes this transition would have on our relationships with him; helping him see that this would be positive, and was part of the inevitable growth and change that occurs in life.

Future: We were committed to creating the vision, strength, and capacity for him to accept that he is entering a new chapter in his life. Although he would not be surrounded by all that was familiar to him, we explained that these things would always be a part of him, and provide a secure base from which he could embrace change. He came to understand that the people he had got to know through Care Visons would still be around for support, but in a different way than he had been used to. Supported connections had also been established through the Care Visions ‘Why Not?” initiative.

The transition was smooth, and exemplified the power that strong relationships built by a dedicated and solution-focused team can hold. We celebrated his achievements, and said goodbye in so many positive ways, which also involved his family.  Finally, we planted a rose bush, to remind him and us, of the part he will always have in our lives.

The Power of Strong Relationships: Blackburn Cottage - Residential Care

Blackburn Cottage – Residential Care