Welcome to Gemma’s case study at Acorns Residential, where we examine the transformative journey of a young girl who came to Acorns seeking therapeutic support.
Gemma came to Acorns aged 14. Her family history included neglect, physical and psychological abuse, with a suspicion of sexual abuse unconfirmed.
Gemma first came into care when she was 9 years old, accessing both foster care and a children’s home provision. Following a safeguarding issue within her placement, Gemma moved to Acorns with a view to accessing our therapeutic support.
Acorns Residential Support
Gemma had ADHD and regularly demonstrated risk-taking behaviours. She came to Acorns with criminal convictions for shoplifting, destruction of property, and drug and alcohol misuse in the community. Gemma had not been in full time education for some time and was known to abscond from both previous homes and schools.
Acorns focused on providing support with her engagement in education, and regular therapeutic support to reduce risk-taking behaviour, drug and alcohol issues, and missing from care incidents.
As with many young people in care, Gemma had attachment problems due to her early life experiences. She presented with an anxious/avoidant attachment style.
Initially, Gemma had some contact with her family members, but due to the complex nature of these relationships, it was often sporadic.
Gemma took time to settle at Acorns and was very mistrusting of all adults to begin with. She had low self-esteem and often exhibited poor impulse control due to her ADHD.
Both verbal and physical aggression was common from Gemma. She initially struggled with attending school and would be disruptive whilst there to avoid the learning process.
Gemma initially refused to attend therapy aimed at building her emotional resilience.
Despite some initial difficulties, Gemma did settle with time and started allowing staff to support her engagement in school.
The Outcome From Our Residential Childcare
Acorns helped Gemma to limit her risk taking behaviour by encouraging her to develop more appropriate activities and by setting clear expectations and boundaries.
Unconditional positive regard, a nurturing environment and consistent care aided Gemma with her low self-esteem and emotional difficulties. Gemma agreed to access therapy with the support of staff, who attended alongside her in particular sessions. This also supported her development of self-worth, identity and emotional resilience.
Staff supported Gemma with an independence programme to help her to develop and understand the responsibilities of living an independent adult life.
She remained at Acorns to complete her GCSE’s and was accepted into a local college. Gemma also developed enough emotional resilience to rebuild a relationship with her mother and Gemma ceased her risk-taking behaviours.
Following the completion of her college course, Gemma successfully transitioned into semi-independent living within the local area. This was Gemma’s choice and her semi-independent living remains successful to date.
Healing Pasts • Building Futures