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A looked after life can often lead to success if the right care and support is given

For every horror story out there about looked after young people, and the stigma that often surrounds it, there are many more which outline the positive
path they have taken and how their lives have been turned around in all aspects for the better. One such case study which is a growing testament to the support system he had around him and, of course, to his own credit, is Luke, a former resident of Parkview House in London. Luke’s story is remarkable and demonstrates a significant turnaround in his behaviour and attitudes and has enabled him to live a fulfilled and positive future.

Luke went to live at Parkview House and was presenting with many issues. His previous foster placement of 4½ years had broken down and following that had a further five unsuccessful foster placements. He was admitted into one home for children, but he was deemed to be too challenging to manage by staff and this led to him coming to stay at Parkview House. In his past he had committed criminal damage, had little self-esteem, was very angry and would bang his head or run out into the road, exhibited negative attention-seeking behaviour and felt that he was a failure.

It became apparent there were several reasons for his behaviour and his attitude; when he was just five he disclosed he was suffering mental and physical abuse at the hands of his father – his father was now living in a care home for adults with senile dementia, his mother had passed away just before his admission into Parkview House, he wasn’t equipped with the necessary skills to deal with situations appropriately and, consequently, would escalate situations, and would be restrained up to 4 or 5 times each day.

Parkview House, an eight-bedded property, embedded key therapeutic principles – nurture, attachment, communication, reflective working, social cohesion, containment, and empowerment. Used within the context of a behaviour management plan, this was supported by a 24-hour management plan encompassing the child’s every need. A considerable amount of work was done to help Luke, his keyworker Debbie was instrumental in his turnaround and showed a proactive and consistent approach in supporting, guiding and motivating him.

Some of the methods employed included:

  • Supporting him at school and developing strategies so Luke could work on improving his self-esteem and work towards becoming an electrician
  • Taking a keen interest in his school’s performing arts productions he was involved with
  • Facilitating contact with his two aunts and his brother on a monthly basis
  • Helping him come to terms with the death of his granddad, who he was close to, and attend his funeral with him
  • Helped Luke go on a school trip to the USA which was financially assisted by social services

Luke attained many educational achievements, including: BTEC in First Diploma in Business, grade merit, GCSEs in English and Maths, Silver and bronze PHAT awards (personal high achieving targets), Level 2 BTEC First Diploma, Pass/Merit in Performing Arts, Distinction in investigating financial control, plus a 100% attendance rate in college.

When the time came for him to be discharged from Parkview House Luke was 17. His life had improved considerably and his behaviour had altered for the better. He was no longer banging his head and showed signs of being a caring and loving young man. He has sustained a beneficial relationship with Debbie – this was a surprise to him as previous relationships have not ended well for him. He joined an electrician’s course and commenced an apprenticeship. He went to live in a one-bedroomed flat and used money set aside to him by his mother to buy items he felt reminded him of her. He acquired useful budgeting and life skills enabling him to live independently. He was proud of himself and had grown in confidence, demonstrated responsibility and had increased social skills.

Luke was given a chance, he had a solid team working with him and striving for him to reach his full potential. It was the right kind of therapeutic support Luke had been craving most of his young life and, once he recognised he was not a failure and could go on to do positive things, allowed himself to thrive with every chance of a highly successful future.