Mark’s Story 2009-2011
Mark was referred to Care Afloat at an extremely difficult time in his life. He was in a secure hospital with a diagnosis of drug induced psychosis, with a wide range of extreme emotional and behavioural difficulties. Mark had a history of violent criminal offences, and was categorised as high risk within MAPPA (multi agency public protection arrangement).
Whilst in the hospital Mark had assaulted staff members and caused criminal damage, leading to the hospital being unable or unwilling to continue his placement there. The youth offending team were recommending a custodial sentence and there was a high probability that this would be the outcome at the pending court hearing.
Care Afloat put together a package of care that would include an educational placement with therapeutic input, to present to the court, in an attempt to avoid this course of action. This was successful and it was agreed that Mark would have a placement within Care Afloat.
Following our initial assessment, it was concluded that, whilst it was recognised that Mark would eventually benefit from sharing a home with other young people to enable him to develop the social skills needed for future stability, it was not suitable for him to share with other young people initially.
Our plan included him spending some time in a remote area to allow him a period of stability, with time and space to build positive relationships with the staff team, with limited access to negative outside influences.
Mark spent his initial 28 days with Care Afloat in a solo placement in a rural area on our Mobile provision which can operate anywhere in the country. During this time he worked with the staff team who would eventually care for him to ensure consistency when he moved to a community based home. The staff team were highly trained and experienced in managing challenging behaviours; they worked with Mark to rebuild his confidence and self esteem, and look at his offending behaviours.
He was introduced to Care Afloat’s Learn 4 Life School on a daily basis, to study for GCSE’s and an Asdan qualification.
He settled in well and started to establish the relationships with us that would become the bedrock of his future.
At the end of the 28 days, Mark moved into a small community based home and resided there for a period of 12 months. During this time the team continued to work with him with a multi disciplinary approach, including services and support from the Psychologist from the Community Homes Health Team, Youth offending team, MAPPA and Ad Action (drugs and alcohol councillor).
We worked on the philosophy of unconditional positive regard to enable Mark to increase his self worth by understanding that it was not he as a person that was inappropriate or unacceptable, but only his behaviours.
Mark was encouraged to discuss situations that caused him to be angry, and was provided with strategies to aid him to manage this anger.
He was offered a wide range of activities, and his ability in music was promoted. This became the key to working with this young person to enable him to express himself in the form of music.
Included in this package was a place within a music studio and very quickly it became apparent that he had a natural gift in this area, in particular with writing lyrics and recording CD’s.
Throughout the next 12 months, he thrived in this environment, and each time he reached a crisis point, staff supported him with patience and understanding, to enable him to find his way back into a positive place. Mark did have occasions when he committed further criminal offences, and each time, a manager attended the court with a positive report, advocating avoidance of a custodial sentence for Mark.
In difficult times, when he refused to attend school, tutors visited him at the home and provided education.
During the 12 month period at the home, observation and assessment indicated that Mark was struggling to meet targets set to enable him have a successful transition to independence ;evidence suggested that this was being obstructed by the fact that he was sharing a home with other young people.
In several multi agency meetings, and in consultation with Mark and his Local Authority, it was decided that he would benefit from a community based solo home, starting with a 2-1 staffing ratio , and over a period of time reducing this to 1-1 staffing. This would provide him with the opportunity to develop the life skills needed, without the negative influence of other young people.
After several pre placement visits he moved to one of our community based solo homes ; he continued to attend Learn for Life school and the music studios.
The intervention worked .Consistency and stability were key elements.
In 2010 ,he gained 3 GCSE’s, an Arts Council Silver award for Music Technology, an ASDAN Sports award and a number of AQAs.
Mark thrived so well in his music that he was given an apprenticeship at the studio; understandably he had difficulty with this in the initial stages , but the staff team continued to work with him, offering encouragement and support, until he eventually gained the skills needed to attend work, and engage appropriately once there. Last Christmas he gave a public performance with his band at Care Afloat’s own Christmas Party .
Mark has now moved into semi independence with an outreach package provided by his staff team, to ensure he has the consistency and support needed to enable him to thrive. He is struggling with this, but with his excellent confidence and self esteem, we now hope that he has the skills needed to live independently, and with continuing support, face the difficult times ahead and live in the community without risk to others or himself.
Whatever happens, we will continue to support and encourage him!
• The name of the young person involved has been changed to protect his confidentiality.