Reduction in incidents during COVID-19 in a Secure Children’s Home: an opportunity for learning

Published date24 January 2022
Date24 January 2022
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression,conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology,policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
AuthorAnnette McKeown,Gemma MacMillan,Ella Watkins,Domanic Caveney,Anna Smith,Patrick Jack Kennedy,Rachel Atkins,Robyn Lee
Reduction in incidents during COVID-19 in
a Secure Childrens Home: an opportunity
for learning
Annette McKeown, Gemma MacMillan, Ella Watkins, Domanic Caveney, Anna Smith,
Patrick Jack Kennedy, Rachel Atkins and Robyn Lee
Purpose The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented for young people within the UK. The pandemic has
presented particular challenges for vulnerable children and young people. For example, a recent study in
the UK indicated that 83% of young people with existing mental health conditions said the pandemic had
made their condition worse (Young Minds, 2020). To date, the impact upon populations such as young
people in Secure Children’s Homes (SCHs) is unknown. This study aims to elucidate this area.
Design/methodology/approach SCHs provide a safe, supportive environment for vulnerable young
people who frequently present with multiple and complex needs. Young people residing within a SCH
may be residing at the settingbecause of a Secure Accommodation Order under a Section25 Order of
the Children’s Act (1989) or for criminal justice reasons, i.e. serving a Remand period or custodial
sentence. Preliminary research compared a baseline period to a follow-up period after the
commencement of COVID-19 national lockdown measures within a SCH in the North of England to
developunderstanding of the impact for young people.
Findings A significant decreasein overall incidents (t(5) = 6.88, p<0.001), restraints (t(5) = 9.07,
p<0.001) and other incidents including assaults occurred during follow-up. The SECURE STAIRS
framework supports trauma-informed care and enhancessupport within the setting. Consistent with the
framework, provision of formulation meetings was significantly increased within the follow-up period
(Welsh’st(74) = 2.74, p<0.001). Reflections and futurerecommendations are outlined.
Originality/value The unanticipated results highlight the value of examining incident data within secure
environments and could lead to effective practice changes for practitioners working within this domain. This
research also demonstrates how frameworks such as SECURE STAIRS can be beneficial for vulnerable
young people during periods of change and stress in mitigating some of the potential negative effects. The
implementation of such frameworks within SCHs is still novel and thus evaluative research is valuable.
Keywords Young people, Trauma-informed care, COVID-19,Incidents,
Secure Children’s Home (SCH), SECURE STAIRS
Paper type Research paper
There is a risk that the COVID-19 pandemic may have a catastrophic impact upon young
people (United Nations, 2020). Substantial changes to routine have occurred, and potential
sources of containment and safety such as schoolshave been closed for periods during
the pandemic (UNESCO, 2020). There has been much uncertainty about the future, and in
some instances, reduced opportunities for young people to participate in enjoyable and
regulating activities to mitigate stress(Danese and Smith, 2020). Many young people (83%)
surveyed commented that their existing mental health conditionshave worsened during the
pandemic (Young Minds, 2020). These findings suggest noteworthy impacts of the
pandemic on the psychologicalwell-being of young people.
Annette McKeown,
Gemma MacMillan,
Ella Watkins,
Domanic Caveney,
Anna Smith and Patrick
Jack Kennedy are all based
at the Kolvin Service,
Cumbria Northumberland
Tyne and Wear NHS
Foundation Trust,
Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
Rachel Atkins is based at
the Durham County
Council, Durham, UK.
Robyn Lee is based at the
Kolvin Service, Cumbria
Northumberland Tyne and
Wear NHS Foundation
Trust, Newcastle upon
Tyne, UK.
Received 27 September 2021
Revised 17 November 2021
17 December 2021
Accepted 17 December 2021
Data availability: For queries
regarding data, contact the
“author for correspondence.”
Financial support: The Burdett
Trust is an independent
charitable trust that supports
nursing contributions to health
care. The Burdett Trust
provided financial grant
funding to support least
restrictive practice
developments in the setting.
These developments link to this
DOI 10.1108/JACPR-09-2021-0639 VOL. 14 NO. 3 2022, pp. 259-271, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 259

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