Hope Patching would rather forget 2019.
- A new facility offers supported living to people with mental illness
- The 16 tiny homes empower people to live independent lives
- It is hoped more of the homes will be opened across Australia
In one year, she watched helplessly as nine of her family members died.
“It started with my grandmother,” she said.
“Then everything went downhill. I lost my mum, my stepdad, my uncles … it really hit me.”
Her mental health spiralled as she grappled with the loss of so many loved ones, so she went to her doctor.
“I said, ‘I’m having bad thoughts, I need help’,” she said.
She was linked with a psychiatrist and moved into a share house which offered constant intensive support.
But Ms Patching said she soon felt trapped and longed for independence.
She has since moved into Haven Home, a new facility in Mooroopna, near Shepparton.
It offers supported independent units to people with acute mental illness.
“I can finally be on my own and be responsible for myself,” she said.
Home offers healing
This new 16-unit Mooroopna Haven Home is one of five in Victoria, with plans to roll out more across the state and country.
The facilities offer a space where people can focus on recovery while also building community and a sense of independence.
Owned by the Haven Foundation, which specialises in providing social housing to people with psychosocial disability, the homes also feature 24/7 support from specialist mental health service provider Mind Australia.
Residents can self-refer, and must have a diagnosed mental illness and an National Disability Insurance Scheme plan which includes a supported independent living component.
Mooroopna Haven service manager Trudy Fuller said the units had been swiftly snapped up in the few months since they opened.
She said she had already seen residents grow in confidence and build friendships.
Hopes for greater growth
Mind Australia chief executive Gill Callister said the recovery-oriented Haven model aimed to stop a devastating downward spiral in the mental health system.
“What you see with people who face serious long-term mental health challenges, is this repeated cycle of becoming unwell, going to hospital and losing accommodation,” Ms Callister said.
“In the Haven model, unplanned admissions to hospital go down at a really rapid rate.
Ms Callister said the model also helped deal with a key catalyst of mental illness — loneliness.
“It’s a real factor that shows up again and again as a barrier to recovery,” she said.
“Through Haven, we see this huge improvement in people’s ability to connect, not just with the other residents in the haven, but in their local community.”
She hoped there would be more funding in future for the model to continue rolling out across Australia.
Dreaming for the future
Ms Patching said the new home had been life-changing.
“Now I’m doing my own washing, cooking for myself, looking after a pet, looking after my nieces,” she said.
And at last, she can dream for the future.
“My next goal is to get a job, so I can have money to go on holidays,” she said.
“I always wanted a job, but didn’t have much confidence to do it.