My Hometown Discovers the Benefits of a Peer-Run Respite Center
What do you do when you are feeling stressed or symptomatic, but don’t fit the criteria for hospital admission? There may not have been as many options in the past, but now there’s a smart and effective option starting to pop up all over the country – peer-run respite centers. These centers are a place for rest, but also a place to receive support and encouragement from people who have had similar experiences and made it through. Peer-run respite centers offer a short-term stay in a non-clinical setting. I’m so happy to say that we now have a center right here in my hometown of Toledo.
When I started working for Neighborhood Properties, Inc. last year, there was quite a commotion around the office regarding a new building opening soon in the South End. I didn’t understand all the bustle at first, but I soon learned the significance of the new building and program. Our organization was opening the very first peer-run respite center in our area.
The center welcomed its first guests last fall, and it has been immensely beneficial. Not only does it support guests in their recovery, but it also fights stigma locally and gives jobs to peers – people who have struggled with mental health and substance use issues and are now in solid recovery. Our center is always at no charge, and staying at a respite center can often help guests avoid a potential hospital stay, cutting healthcare costs in our community.
Other peer-run respite programs provided inspiration.
While our peer-run respite center was in development, our staff visited another program on the other side of the state. While peer-run respite programs are gaining popularity, as of 2018 they were still only available in 14 states.1We were lucky to have one close by – within driving distance even – to get information and draw inspiration from.
The Foundations Respite Program in Canton, OH sees the crucial need for peer support. They are staffed by certified peer supporters with the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) training. The program not only promotes rest and relaxation but also encourages guests to “develop or return to a daily routine and care for oneself”. They ask those struggling in Stark County with new symptoms or medication side effects, grief, loneliness, or fearful thoughts and ideas to consider a stay at Foundations.2
Our staff also took note of the operations at Crisis Respite Center, a shining example of a well-run respite program in New York City. It’s an alternative to hospitalization and provides a “welcoming and home-like environment”. They not only provide peer support and recovery activities but also allow guests to continue a regular schedule of work or visiting family and friends when needed.3
Other centers across the country have so much to offer, and our organization has learned so much. For a directory of peer-run respite centers across the US, visit peerrespites.net.
The Wellness and Recovery Center – Northwest Ohio’s first peer-run respite center
In 2018, Neighborhood Properties, Inc. proudly opened the doors of the Wellness and Recovery Center, a beautiful, brand new facility in Toledo where those struggling with emotional distress can rest, get support, and learn about resources available in the community. More than a dozen newly employed peers were eager to help others in recovery.
When guests arrive at the center, they are often greeted with the smell of cookies baking or a meal being prepared. The staff does everything they can to make guests feel comfortable and at ease. Guests receive judgment-free support from caring peers that are available 24/7. They are given their own bedroom and bathroom and are welcome to stay up to seven days. While at the center, guests can come and go to attend appointments, spend time with family and friends, or do whatever else they need to do to maintain their outside life and recovery.
Hospitals vs. Peer-Run Respite Centers
According to SAMHSA, “research shows that peer-operated respite services reduce the need for inpatient or emergency room visits due to emotional distress by 70 percent”.4In the US where healthcare is a battleground, every community could benefit greatly from peer-run respite centers.
Of course, there are times when hospital care is absolutely necessary to stabilize a person in crisis, but there are also times when a respite center could prevent a hospital stay. Hospitals treat psychiatric symptoms but don’t address the stressors and underlying causes of crises. This is where a peer-run respite center can provide support, coping skills, and community resources.
Hospitals sometimes leave patients isolated from family and friends at a time the patient may need their support the most. Respite centers encourage engagement from loved ones, as well as participation in improving the guest’s daily routine and home life.
There are so many benefits of peer-run respite centers, so I hope the growth of new programs continues. If you do not have a respite center near you, consider doing your own research and share the information with your local community as well as social media.
- Peer Respites Action & Evaluation peerrespites.net
- Community Access. Crisis Respite Center. https://www.communityaccess.org/our-work/crisis-support
- National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. SAMHSA Webinar PDF. https://www.nasmhpd.org/sites/default/files/Peer%20Run%20Respite%20slides.revised.pdf