Respite house giving youth hope for a brighter future

“It's like a home and there are always people around who understand and care.”

Operated by Real, the youth brand of Pathways, a new respite house in Tauranga offers young people experiencing a difficult time a break in a caring environment. 

Operated by Real, the youth brand of Pathways, a new respite house in Tauranga offers young people experiencing a difficult time a break in a caring environment. 

Eighteen year-old Claudia* is one of the Bay of Plenty’s young people benefiting from the new respite house.   

Claudia has been struggling with an eating disorder in recent years. She has stayed twice in the last few months, following referral to Real youth services.

"It’s like a home and there are always people around who understand and care," says Claudia. "Plus, it’s so much better than having to go to hospital when you’re having a tough time, and not too far for my mum to visit me."

Funded by Bay of Plenty DHB, the house is designed as a homely and welcoming environment. On the day we visited, Claudia was engrossed in designing and painting inspirational rocks for the garden and had spent the morning with her youth worker at the Historic Village.

"Going out with the youth workers is awesome," says Claudia. "It’s nice to get fresh air and do something different to what I’d do at home, with new friends. And it’s a good distraction from my eating disorder."

The service, which has been operating since September 2017, offers a positive and relaxed environment where 12 to 18 year olds can go to focus on their wellness, with 24/7 support from clinical staff and youth workers.

"Early invention is key for young people in our community," says Real team coach and registered nurse, Danica Thompson.

The respite service is available both in crisis situations and for planned stays. How long people stay is based on their individual needs.

Another 17-year-old female who stayed with Real recently had stopped taking her medication for bipolar and needed some extra support to help get her back on track.

The Real team supported her to improve her sleeping, develop healthy eating patterns and re-establish good routines around her medication. Within a week she was able to return home to her family in a much more positive headspace. 

"The respite house is regularly occupied and is a service that has been well received by clinicians and families alike," says registered social worker and youth AOD (alcohol and other drugs) coordinator Caleb Putt. "We’re grateful for this option in our continuum of care for young people with often complex needs.

"A lot of learning has occurred during the last nine months and we anticipate a continued close and effective working relationship now and into the future, with better outcomes for young people and families hopefully the result."

Young people can be referred to the service through Voyagers (0800 486 947) or through CAMHS (child and adolescence mental health services) by calling 0800 333 061.

*Name has been changed for privacy.

Pictured: Real team member Megan Gray chatting to a young person staying at the respite house.

Published on: 14 May 2018