Tony was a 7 year old young boy when referred to one of Common Thread’s small group living homes by the Local Authority after a period of being placed on the at risk Child Protection Register. Tony had attended a Children’s Hearing and had been identified as a young person in need of care and protection. There had been concerns around the level of care Tony received in the family home, which identified that he had suffered early childhood neglect, abuse and trauma. Tony was displaying angry and aggressive behaviours such as hitting out, vandalism and spitting within the family home and school as well as towards his peer group in the community. Tony was unable to sustain a place in his school setting for any significant length of time. Tony had no age-appropriate routines or boundaries and was unable to take direction from the adults around him. Tony had a poor diet and was overweight; he also had untreated dental decay, which was causing him additional distress. Tony suffered from enuresis and encopresis and was smearing faeces at home and school and had shown concerning cruelty towards animals.
After an initial settling period Tony slowly began to respond within the nurturing environment and the care team focussed on building trusting supportive relationships with him. Tony liked the consistency of care and attention he was receiving and gradually was able to display trust. He responded to age-appropriate routines and boundaries. The care staff used positive appraisal and reward charts in line with Tony’s age and stage of development. Tony started to feel safe in his surroundings and this enabled a reduction in his anxiety levels and crisis behaviours at the outset, and in turn, intensive therapeutic work commenced.
Tony’s physiological needs were supported, and extensive supports were put in place via a dietician to address comfort-eating issues. Rewards were used to encourage healthy eating and he was encouraged to sit with others during meal times. He was supported to attend the local dentist and his tooth decay was addressed. Focus then moved onto Tony’s social and emotional skills, good eating and sleeping patterns were established and verbal and visual prompts addressed his challenging behaviours. He was supported to take part in outings and sporting activities such as swimming and skateboarding, gradually introducing participation with other young people. All of the above was underpinned via the support of Tony’s psychological needs through regular therapy/counselling. This provided emotional stabilisation and a safe base in which Tony subsequently disclosed the abuse he had previously suffered.
Tony was encouraged to take part in education and a small core education team were identified to work closely with him, supported by his care staff. This was initially undertaken within the care home: however, this gradually increased to Tony attending the Common Thread School, which involved travelling and learning with other young people.
Tony is able to trust and relate positively to the adults who provide his care. He now presents as more emotionally stable and there is a reduction in his anxiety and stress levels. Tony is able to implement appropriate coping mechanisms to deal with his past trauma which don’t involve anger and aggression towards others.
Tony has progressed well and is now attending mainstream education where he has developed and can sustain positive friendships. Tony is healthy and active and continues to grow and develop with predicted age appropriate behaviours.
Common Thread provided a high level of intensive therapeutic support throughout involvement with Tony. All professionals involved worked together to address and achieve the goals identified within his Care Plan.
The above information depicts a real Common Thread case study. The name of the young person involved has been changed to protect their identity.