A Youth Model of Care in Residential Recovery Services

26 October 2021
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Understanding the priorities and expectations of people in youth residential recovery services (YRRS) was the focus of research co-produced and guided by young people living in a YRRS.

A partnership between Neami National and Orygen researchers, the research also involved service delivery staff and lived experience researchers.

Residential recovery services support young people who are experiencing serious mental ill-health by providing up to 12 months intensive psychosocial support that includes developing independent living skills in areas such as health, work and study.

The tangible outcomes of the research were the development of a Youth Model of Care framework, reflective practice tools, renewed outcome measures, and accessible service information to empower youth in their recovery journey.

Priscilla Ennals, Neami National Senior Manager Research and Evaluation, said “Centring the knowledge of young people at all stages of the research was critical. Real relationships with staff and other young people, creates a culture of belonging, safety and feeling known. This enables young people to figure out their directions and goals, and learn new skills, as they become experts of themselves.”

Pip, a young person involved in the collaboration said what mattered to the young people who took part in the research, was to be recognised as experts of their own lives.

“I have been a consumer of mental health services since I was 13 years old and have often felt stifled, disrespected and judged. Being part of this steering group has helped me realise that both myself, and others, have so much to add and so much value and experience to impart,” she said.

Dr Magenta Simmons, leading the research stream on youth involvement at Orygen, said “By building long term relationships with young people and having them co-design the research, meant they felt safe to discuss what they wanted from their residential mental health service – to feel safe, known and that they belong.

“Residential mental health services can now use this framework to realign their policies and procedures and rethink how they evaluate and measure success within a service, to truly reflect the needs and wants of young people attending them,” she said.

The two resultant journal articles are now available:

  • Introducing the YRRS: collaborative autoethnography offering insights into the experience of living in a youth residential rehabilitation recovery services (YRRS) and transitioning through three different phases over the course of a one-year stay
  • Co-producing to understand what matters: participatory action research project which identified both the ‘change work’ young people did in YRRS’ and the factors that created a supportive environment for this to occur. Real relationships with staff and other young people created a culture of belonging, safety and feeling known. This enabled young people to figure out their directions and goals, and learn new skills, as they were becoming experts of themselves. These findings are metaphorically captured in the image of an egg – a nurturing and interdependent whole.

Victorian Youth Residential Rehabilitation Services provide spaces for young people negotiating distress, mental health, alcohol and other drug issues, childhood trauma and identity issues. For up to twelve months young people can live with other young people in either a shared house or a group of shared units, supported by a small team of staff, including staff who have a lived experience of mental ill-health and recovery.

Overnight phone support is available, and during the day, 7 days a week, staff provide active psychosocial support, with linkage to more specialist services as needed. Young people are encouraged to build friendships.