As young human beings, we don’t ask for much. Safety, love, food, laughter, the opportunity to learn and grow – these are basic needs, and usually they are met instinctively by parents. Yet for some children, they are unimaginable luxuries. They have known only deprivation or chaos at best, and life-threatening danger at worst. These children need immediate and comprehensive intervention. And this entails more than relocating them under a different roof and providing the loving care they’ve lacked. They first need rebuilding: they often have damage that must be repaired, symptoms that need managing, and obstacles in relating to adults and other children. Typically, they may also lag behind in the area that is the key to their future: schooling.
At Five Rivers, we specialise in addressing this ‘menu’ of different needs, and in bringing them together in an integrated and consistent way. At the heart of integrated care is something very simple: a wraparound of knowledgeable support to replicate the stable and loving childhood that most of us were lucky to take for granted. For some children, this is new territory: they will feel that their childhood so far has been ‘done to them’. Perhaps for the first time, we make them feel valued; to belong and a stake in their surroundings, guided by people who genuinely want the best for them. Even rules – bedtimes, routines, behaviour, respect for others – start to become a kind of security rather than a threat.
Genuinely joined-up care
Five Rivers is the only registered social enterprise that offers integrated care. Indeed, we were one of its pioneers, and today we bring nearly three decades of practical experience to delivering this fully integrated service. We treat the whole child, and in a fully joined-up way. We assess which issues are the most pressing; what is the overall emotional state and character of the child; how will the treatment of one challenge benefit, or hinder, the progress of another?
Integrated care therefore entails everyone who cares for each child working in concert. Every team member in our residences, every teacher in our schools and every visiting psychotherapist and clinician – all work together to tailor an agreed approach, and to apply it consistently.
We also recognise that every child is unique. One child may react to years of abuse or neglect by rejecting everyone around them, perhaps lashing out verbally or physically.
In contrast, another may internalise their pain, convincing themselves they are worthless and expressing their anguish through self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
At every stage, we tailor the appropriate resources to individual needs. Initially, these may be intensive, with high staff-to-child ratios and continuous specialist input. But as they start to make progress, the goal is to build confidence and autonomy so that, one day, they become citizens and parents we are proud of.
Through each stage of their care journey, their progress is reviewed by everyone involved in giving it. Through regular integrated care management meetings (ICMMs), internal and external team members share knowledge, assesses what has happened and anticipates what is needed as the next steps approach.
Later, this can also extend to step-down care. When a child is ready to move into a foster family, possibly even back to their own, or onto independence, we continue to ensure that this consistency is maintained, through constant contact, feedback, reviewing and planning.
Ready when you need us
Five Rivers has the network, the specialists and the teachers to provide immediate responses to children’s emotions and physical needs.
This avoids delays if mainstream services are not available, and which can exacerbate the fragility of a child. We are proud of the many turnarounds we have achieved, and the lasting positive outcomes for children who, through no fault of their own, were previously cast adrift. Five Rivers also demonstrates the sound economics of integrated care, with timely and effective action taken now, avoiding repeated and increasing social demands later.
Five Rivers Child Care, “Turning children’s lives around” every day.