Research Update: Understanding Relationships in Therapeutic Residential Care

Oct 2023

Written by Kelly Royds Lynne McPherson

The Centre for Excellence in Therapeutic Care (CETC) is engaged in ongoing research to understand how positive, trusting relationships and social connections can be fostered for young people in Therapeutic Residential Care settings in Australia.

Led by CETC Director Janise Mitchell and SCU Associate Professor Lynne McPherson, this project also includes contributions from other Australian researchers and international expertise from Emeritus Professor Robbie Gilligan of Trinity College Dublin.

What progress have we made so far?

The team has successfully conducted 38 individual interviews with young people living in Intensive Therapeutic Care (ITC) or Intensive Therapeutic Care-Significant Disability homes in New South Wales. Additionally, focus group interviews have been completed with 50 ITC staff, therapeutic specialists, managers, and 20 Department of Community and Justice representatives, including policy advisers.

“What has struck me about the research so far is how willing and engaged young people have been in sharing their thoughts about the role of relationships in their care experience”, reflected Lynne and Janise.

A first in Australian research

This is the first large-scale, mixed-methods study in Australia that captures the experiences and perspectives of both young people and staff about what helps or hinders the development of positive relationships and social connections in Therapeutic Residential Care settings.

Next steps

The project’s next phase involves data analysis and the development of a survey tool for the project’s third phase. Janise Mitchell has recently collaborated with Lynne McPherson and other team members to begin a preliminary analysis of the findings, which will be reported in the coming months.

We are continuing to recruit young people to participate in interviews, in particular those living in Sydney.

Thank you and call out!

We extend our gratitude to all agencies that have facilitated our work by connecting us with young people who can share their experiences.

For those interested in contributing to this research, particularly if you are involved with a young person in ITC in Sydney, please reach out to Lynne McPherson at lynne.mcpherson@scu.edu.au for opportunities to participate in individual interviews.

You may be interested in: Residential care Therapeutic care

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