The Future of Peer Support in
Florida: The Respite Center
as Crisis Alternative
May 11, 2011
Cindy Highsmith Myron
[email protected]
Dana Foglesong
[email protected]
Learning Objectives
•Understand what a Respite Center is
and how it can help a person
•Identify the various Respite Centers
operating in the United States and how
each differ
•Learn about plans for a Respite Center
in Southwest Florida
What is Respite?
Respite is a period of rest and relief.
-Merriam Webster’s Dictionary
There are different types of
•respite for those in cancer
•respite for caregivers attending to
elderly relatives or children with
In mental health recovery, respite is
an alternative to psychiatric
hospitalization that provides a safe
environment and peer support.
Peer Support is at the heart of the
Respite experience.
“Peer support is not based on psychiatric
models and diagnostic criteria. It is about
understanding another’s situation
empathically through the shared experience
of emotional and psychological pain.” Shery
What are your choices when things are
breaking down?
•Don’t go to hospital because can’t
afford it or other reasons
•Get worse
Respite may better fit a person’s needs
and is the most affordable alternative.
Respite saves people and communities
money because many people need only
the less expensive services that a respite
center provides.
Peer-run respite centers are for
individuals who are in crisis but not a
danger to themselves or others. Respites
help divert people from psychiatric
hospitalization and avoid reaching a
dangerous state.
UK study shows that crisis care may need less
security, not more
Study authors concluded that locked doors lead to
•Patients feeling frustrated, stigmatized and
•Physical violence risk increased by 11%
•Self-harm risk increased by 20%
•Medication refusal increased by 22%
The study was based on approximately 50,000 responses
from 130 hospitals in England.
Crisis does not have to be
a negative experience. It is
an opportunity for growth,
even in overwhelming
Advantages of Peer-Run Respites over
Psychiatric Hospitals
•75% less expensive
•Jobs for Peer Specialists
•Restoration of Hope
•Enables continuity of care and life in community
Effectiveness of Peer-Run Respites
A randomized control study found greater satisfaction
among users of peer-run respites than with a locked
psychiatric facility. In the same study, guests in the respite
scored higher on self-esteem tests in follow up interviews.
An evaluation of Sweetser House in Maine by a researcher
concluded that peers were highly satisfied with their peerrun respite as an alternative to hospitalization. A compilation
of testimonials at Georgia Peer Support and Wellness Center,
also verified greater satisfaction with the peer-run respite
than the hospital. One such testimonial describes the contrast
between staying overnight there as opposed to a locked
psychiatric ward as “the difference between heaven and
*This summary of research is from National Empowerment
Center; further research is compiled on NEC’s website.
Quotes from Peers at Georgia Peer Support and
Wellness Center
“In the hospital the treatment approach is to treat
me with meds, at the PSWC I am given the
opportunity to explore choices and move toward my
“Respite is a lot more comfortable than a hospital;
no one is controlling.”
“…this whole experience was pleasant, with
superior staff interaction”
“It is better for me to have peers to talk to than to
have doctors talking down to me. I don’t want to
think about what I would do without this.”
“This respite period helped me to refocus on the
lifestyle changes I needed to make, and the groups
were very therapeutic.”
“I had to come off a medication, and if I had stayed
home, the stress may have sent me to the hospital.”
“The best part is the peace you find and feel when
you walk through the door.”
“I was free to do things in and out of the house
instead of being restricted. I can choose how to help
myself, find info online, talking with peers,
journaling, walking, etc.”
Comparison of Rose House and Hospital
Rose House
Greeted Oriented to RecoveryWarmly Program
based &
Staff non- Set own
judgmental schedule
70% 58%
The Georgia Peer Support and
Wellness Center
•Daily Wellness Activities
•3 Respite Beds
•24/7 Warmline
GPSWC Wellness Activities
Daily activities address whole health, wellness, and having a
life in the community
• Mind/Body/Spirit/Nutrition
• Whole Health/Smart Shopper
• Education
• Job Readiness
• Creative Writing
• Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP)
• Peer Support Services
• Trauma Informed Peer Support
• Double Trouble in Recovery (DTR)
• Exercise/Recreation/Mindfulness
• Stretching, Walking, Aerobics, Weights, Swimming
• Bowling, Tennis, Kick Ball, Volley Ball, Basketball
• Yoga, Meditation, Tai Chi, Zen
GPSWC Respite
• 3 respite beds
• Proactive Interview to establish a
• Focus is on learning and growing
• 87% of respite guests report that
accessing a respite bed kept them out of
the hospital
Georgia Peer Support and
Wellness Center
•is funded by the state of Georgia through the
Georgia Mental Health Consumers Network
(the Georgia equivalent of Florida Peer
•was recently given the go ahead to open two
new locations
•is supporting us in modeling our center after
The Breathing Space Recovery and
Respite Center is a peer-run
alternative to traditional mental health
day programs and psychiatric
What is The Breathing Space?
The mission of The Breathing Space is to provide support,
hope and empowerment to Southwest Floridians living with
mental illnesses.
The Breathing Space will promote this mission through an
eco-friendly, peer-run facility known as the Recovery and
Respite Center. The Center will offer a variety of classes,
support groups and wellness activities during the day. At
night, individual respite rooms will be available to help
prevent crisis hospitalizations through power of peer
How it works:
Initiative Interview
Before a person will be allowed to access respite they must first meet with
peer staff to do an initiative interview. The interview must happen while
the person is doing well and will help determine what respite supports the
participant prefers.
The Respite Experience
Each participant will have a private room for up to a week at a time while
receiving peer support and respite. Participants are free to leave to utilize
their medical and community resources. Participants are responsible for
taking their own medications and keeping them locked in their room.
To be eligible for a respite bed a person must:
• Identify as a current or former recipient
of mental health services
• Be 18 years old or older
• Not be a danger to self or others
• Have already completed an “Initiative
Interview” with peer staff
The Recovery Center
During the day The Breathing Space
will offer recovery groups, art groups,
support groups, relaxation training,
WRAP, movement therapies, ecotherapies, self-directed learning and
social activities.
The Breathing Space Organizational Values
Recovery Oriented
We believe and will promote the truth that recovery is possible
for everyone. For some, recovery is the ability to live a
fulfilling and productive life despite a disability. For others,
recovery might mean the reduction or complete remission of
symptoms, or a transformation that brings the person to an
even healthier state than before their diagnosis. The Breathing
Space supports and celebrates all these paths and others, and
encourages hope, which has been shown to play an integral
role in recovery.
Peer Run
The Breathing Space believes in the
power of one individual supporting
another based on their shared
experience with a mental illness. All
employees will be trained Peers
ensuring that peer support is at the
heart of all Breathing Space activities.
The Breathing Space understands
that there is no singular path to
recovery. We believe in choice, selfdetermination, and addressing the
needs of mind, body and spirit.
The Breathing Space supports
individuals with mental illnesses in
exercising their right to live a full and
meaningful life. Through increased
self-confidence and practical tools,
individuals are empowered to realize
their dreams and to fight for their civil
The Breathing Space was founded by
individuals with a passion for the
environment. We will consider the
Earth in every decision we make in the
creation and maintenance of the
Breathing Space and its delivery of
Respite at Northside Mental
Health Center in Tampa
Alfred Jefferson
[email protected]
Some Other Respite Centers
Stepping Stone Peer Support and Crisis Respite Center
Claremont & Lebanon, New Hampshire
Contact: Jude Dolan
603-543-1388 or 603-448-6941
Rose House Hospital Diversion Program by PEOPLe,
Inc. Milton & Carmel, New York
Contact: Steve Miccio or Vanessa Turner
845-452-2728 or 845-795-2346 – Click ‘Hospital
Diversion Program’
Essex County Crisis Alternatives Program
Westport, New York
Contact: Darlene Trout, Director
Foundations: A Place for Education and Recovery
Canton, Ohio
Contact: Val Greenlief, Coordinator
New Beginnings 2 - Charleston, West Virginia
Contact: Kimberly Murphy, Director of Community
Supports 304-345-7312
Voices of the Heart, Inc. – Glen Falls, New York
Keya House – Lincoln, Nebraska
Living Room – Peoria and Phoenix, Arizona
Key We Way – Wellington, New Zealand
Soteria-Alaska – Anchorage, Alaska
Soteria-Berne and others in Europe
Further Resources
Shery Mead Consulting – training on peer-run crisis
Florida Certification Board – to become a Certified
Peer Specialist
National Empowerment Center- lots of info
•What you can do to help

The Future of Peer Support in Florida