What was care like for me? A systematic review of the experiences of young people living in residential care

Cameron-Mathiassen, Jacqueline and Simpson, Jane and Leiper, Julie and McDermott, Elizabeth (2022) What was care like for me? A systematic review of the experiences of young people living in residential care. Children and Youth Services Review, 138: 106524. ISSN 0190-7409

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Residential care can be a relevant option for young people with behavioural problems considered beyond the capacity of the young person’s own home or foster care to manage. While some care home residents go on to excel in life, others do not. Understanding how young people’s experiences of residential care impact on their well-being might help us improve the outcome possibilities for individual residents. This systematic review of qualitative research aimed to synthesize and identify the experience of living in residential care and suggest how these findings can enhance the well-being of this group in the future. Five relevant databases were searched for qualitative empirical studies published between 1990 and January 2020. Twelve papers met the inclusion criteria. The studies were thematically synthesised to produce findings. Four high-order analytical themes were constructed: autonomy and control; relationships and support; safety and security; and, child to adult transitions in care. These high-order themes revealed a varied experience of care with some young people experiencing stability and security as well as support towards achieving normative milestones. For others the findings revealed experiences of not being heard and understood by the care institution, creating experiences of poor well-being and a reduction in agentic development. In addition, peer relationships were experienced both positively as friendships and support developed within some care homes and negatively when the peer group accepted bullying and violence as normative behaviour. This review recommends further research into how the care community culture impacts on young people. Finally, this review calls for research on how agency is developed and supported among young people in residential care, and how poorer psychological well-being can be better understood within the realm of residential care.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Children and Youth Services Review
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Children and Youth Services Review. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Children and Youth Services Review, 138, 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2022.106524
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? youthsyoung adultsresidential carewell-beingexperienceseducationsociology and political sciencedevelopmental and educational psychology ??
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Deposited On:
14 Jun 2022 16:05
Last Modified:
21 May 2024 01:44