Following a period in which the place of relationships in social care has been marginalized by an approach focusing on targets, outcomes, standards and regulation, there is a resurgence of interest in relationship-based approaches. At a policy level, this approach was recently strongly endorsed in the Scottish Government’s ‘Staying Put Scotland’ document. Whilst this document signals a clear policy direction, it is not clear whether or not practices that have been influenced by prior policy positions and powerful discourses about the nature of professionalism will easily embrace this new position.

This research was undertaken as part of a knowledge exchange project organized by University of Edinburgh in partnership with local authority children and families social work services. The purpose of this project was to work towards reducing the gap between research and practice, and one aspect of the project’s work was to provide support to practitioner research. This research project explores one aspect of the relationships between workers and young people in residential child care services – relationship boundary decisions of workers in a range of everyday situations, and the individual, organizational and contextual factors that appear to influence them.

A complex picture emerges, which does not support the idea that there are, or can be, clear boundary positions delineating the limits of professional behavior. It also suggests that the unique nature of the professional role within group care settings, and its implications for relationship boundary issues, are not clearly understood.

You can download Phil's research study by clicking on the link below.


Phil Coady: Relationship Boundaries in Residential Child Care (PDF)