What Makes a Placement Stable in Residential Care?
Stability is something we think we understand: keep a young person in the one placement, without breakdowns and we’ve nailed it. But have we? So far, research has not yielded positive results with regards to stability when measured as a single placement. My research has looked at what constitutes stability in a residential care setting and what effect stability has on young people when measured as a multidimensional construct. We will discuss what elements contribute to an experience of stability and how we can support the staff teams in residential care to be able to provide it for the young people they care for. Some of the key elements that have emerged from my research include consistent and stable staffing, genuine care showed to the young people, safety, support for the staff and the possibility of ongoing staff contact once they leave care. These elements have not previously been considered in the literature as being part of stability, however, according to the staff and young people that were interviewed as part of my research, they are the crucial elements that lead to a feeling of stability and lead to positive outcomes when stability in this form is provided. It appears that even after significant instability and many placement changes, the experience of consistent, genuine caregiving can provide some repair and allow for positive outcomes as described by the young people themselves. In this presentation, we will explore some of the key elements that constitute a felt sense of stability and how residential care organizations can work towards providing a more complete experience of stability for the young people in their care.