Not patients but STUDENTS

The education program at Jacaranda Place (Queensland’s Adolescent Extended Treatment Centre), like the Barrett School at Wacol before it, has so many significant benefits. But the value that can be connected to the challenges that so many young people face – not only those with severe and complex mental health issues – centres on how those between 13 and 25 see themselves.

To have a school onsite with permanent classrooms and staff means that for large portions of each weekday, young people who might otherwise feel like ‘patients’ can identify as ‘STUDENTS’. STUDENTS like their siblings and their peers. Not stuck at home. Not someone with an illness that some services haven’t understood. Students. With a team of teachers. And regular activities.
That can make a HUGE difference.

Especially in a world where mental health issues can still be viewed very differently to physical health issues. And experiencing a stay in a healthcare facility will be yet another challenge to deal with in a life that’s already more than difficult.

So being a ‘student’ can be a relief.  It can take the pressure away from being a person with severe health problems that require treatment. It can give a young person purpose while restoring part of their identity that has been lost during a period of disengagement from learning due to their health issues. And it can help them to feel that they’re part of a group and not isolated and alone.

And there’s another significant aspect to being a student in a service staffed by teaching professionals with a real understanding of severe youth mental health issues and the impacts of those. And that’s to do not with how the young people see themselves but how they feel because of the ways that others have seen them. And responded to them.

Teenagers. Adolescents. Youth. Whatever label is applied if it’s by someone of a different generation, it too often seems that the assignment of being at that particular stage of life comes with assumptions. And sometimes unfair judgements. That a person might be moody. Or selfish. Or irresponsible. Or even defiant.

Certainly as someone grows from ‘child’ to ‘adult’, the stage where each of us has been neither can be a turbulent one. Fraught with change and strong emotion. Dealing with physical changes and all the implications of those. Where we can find ourselves given responsibilities that are tedious compared with a more carefree childhood … but not allowed independence in the areas it can feel most important. Testing boundaries. Working out who you really are and will be through your life. The turmoil of all that should make the fact that so many young people remain civil quite surprising. Instead however, those of us who have been through it ourselves can have selective memory and instead of empathy with those going through that period of life, some adults can even throw out the kinds of slurs that feel unjust to those trying to just get through the days:

“Attention-seeking” “Troublemaker” “Drama Queen”

And sometimes those labels have come from professionals from whom help has been sought for severe, even life-threatening, mental health issues. So of course that can then make any environment that puts the focus on those issues a place that evokes mistrust. Resistance. And of course anxiety.

So to have reached somewhere that they’re finally understood by not just healthcare professionals but teachers is an important start for young people who have been dealing with a number of serious and undeserved challenges. And to have that understanding mean that at their own pace, they are supported to attend classes and work on projects while others like them are doing the same can, to some degree, liberate them from an aspect of their mental burden. At least for a while. And that can be significant after all that they’ve been through.

Jacaranda Place has a team of educators with experience working with children and young people for whom health issues have become a barrier to learning. And those teachers place fundamental importance on respecting each of their students. So much so that it is the young person who will determine their goals while they are at the AETC. With a philosophy that every attendee will leave having achieved something, it’s clear that a positive approach with a clear understanding of individuality underscores the Jacaranda Place education program. So by listening, hearing and responding to the unique needs of each young person while also viewing them as part of an affirming collective group is the balance that we all probably sought as we lurched our way through that turbulent stage of life.

We know that understanding and enthusiastic teachers can make a considerable impact on the lives of their students. But if those teachers are empowering young people who have felt overlooked, minimised, even worthless … then a young life can suddenly take a productive path that was previously not even on the map.

So we pay tribute to the education team at Jacaranda Place AETC as they model an attitude that many of us could learn from WHILE they provide invaluable support in facilitating the achievement of appropriate goals by young people simultaneously dealing with intensive health treatment. Queensland is lucky to have dedicated professionals as a key element of the AETC multidisciplinary team who are also willing to share what they learn with their colleagues throughout the state.

You can read more about the Jacaranda Place education program here and about the role of AETC schools more generally here.


To read our two previous posts on our month-long focus on education, go to:

Education for Young People with Severe Mental Health Issues (5 Oct)

And the GOOD NEWS is … (9 Oct)

 

NEEDED: Youth Peer Worker for Jacaranda Place

If you’re a young person with lived experience of mental illness who has experienced recovery, you can – with specialised training – support others with mental health difficulties by providing hope and modelling positive strategies and outcomes.

The new Extended Treatment Centre for young people at Chermside in Brisbane will have a number of Peer Workers and Children’s Health Queensland (CHQ) have just begun advertising for an:

 Advanced Peer Worker (Youth)
(click above to go to job listing)

As well as sharing your own lived experience and life stories, you will encourage self-awareness and self-determination in those at a different stage of recovery. You’ll be part of the development, planning and delivery of support services to consumers, carers and families and your capacity to model recovery strategies will allow service providers and Non-Government Organisations (NGO’s) to develop a better understanding of the best framework to achieve positive outcomes for young people and their families.


There are healthcare staff and education staff and other people with qualifications and skills who can help young people with mental health issues. But no one has the expertise of a young person who has lived experience.

Being a Peer Worker in this field is an incredibly valuable role. Not only do you know better than most how it feels to be in the position of the young people who’ll need Jacaranda Place … but you know that the most important people in the lives of young people can be OTHER young people. You’re not at a distance considering what their life might be like. You’re them but just further along the recovery path. So a Peer Worker at the new centre will be a key member of the team.

To find out more, go to the job advertisement by clicking here.

There, you can also access the Role Description and a general Information package about working for Children’s Health Queensland (the Hospital and Health Service responsible for the new AETC).

If you’re in recovery and you feel you could help others along the way to a better future, consider applying for this position.

You could make a real difference in the lives of people who need to know it’s possible.

Wanted: Consumer Carer Senior Consultant for Jacaranda Place AETC

A key role is being advertised for the new Adolescent Extended Treatment Centre (AETC), Jacaranda Place, at Chermside.

The CONSUMER CARER SENIOR CONSULTANT will be vital in ensuring that young people and their carers and families continue to be able to play an active role in the way the centre  functions and evolves to best meet the needs of those accessing its services.

Some of the essential job details follow here but the full position description and application information can be found at https://smartjobs.qld.gov.au/jobs/QLD-H20CHQ337404

Position status Permanent
Position type Flexible part-time
Occupational group Administration
Classification AO5
Workplace Location Brisbane – North
Job ad reference QLD/H20CHQ337404
Closing date 02-Mar-2020
Salary Other $44.37 – $48.28 p.h.
Job duration
Contact person Emma Hart
Contact details 33109559
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The Consumer Carer Senior Consultant will promote and give guidance to the development and ongoing management of consumer participation and provide ‘systems advocacy’ in relation to consumer, carer and family related issues by:

    • Ensuring consumer, carer and family perspectives are included in all aspects of mental health service planning, delivery and evaluation
    • Assisting staff of the Queensland Adolescent Extended Treatment Centre in its aim to provide a person and family-centred service.
    • Communicate the broad views of consumers, carers and families to mental health services and other relevant services.

Children’s Health Queensland HHS will be your employer should you be successful in being appointed to this role.

Apart from contributing to the development of this vital and growing Hospital and Health Service, they state that you will also benefit from a competitive remuneration package and a working environment which embraces professional development, builds capabilities and supports staff to maximise their health and wellbeing. Additional benefits include:

    • Up to 12.75% employer superannuation contribution
    • 17.5% annual leave loading
    • Salary packaging
    • Employee Assistance Program
    • Work/life balance, variety and flexibility

So, if you’re considering applying for this role, please go to https://smartjobs.qld.gov.au/jobs/QLD-H20CHQ337404
where you can access pdf versions of:

the AO5 Consumer Carer Senior Consultant Role Description
and
the Information Package for Applicants

Co-design of the facility was just the beginning. The model of care that is utilised to treat young people and support them and their families – and the delivery of the education program along with the many other components that the new Jacaranda Place has the potential to provide – must meet the needs of those it was built to support. Even as needs evolve and change and new challenges arise for the cohort.

This new centre cannot be all that it has the opportunity to be unless there is effective ongoing communication from those using the centre and from those for whom the centre would have served to make a difference had they had access to it. And a Senior Consultant whose focus is to facilitate that input, ensuring it reaches those who can enact changes and advancements, is a role on which ongoing collaboration hinges. This position is one that will genuinely rewarding as it is one that will truly make a difference.

So please share this widely to ensure that the best possible candidates apply.

New AETC named Jacaranda Place

Today, as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk visited the completed statewide Adolescent Extended Treatment Centre (AETC) at Chermside with Health Minister Stephen Miles and the member for Stafford, Dr Anthony Lynham, she announced that the facility was to be called Jacaranda Place. (Ten News First’s coverage – accessible by clicking here – has a full report and footage of the exterior and the interior as the Premier tours the finished centre.)

PremierTweetJacarandaPlace

The final design of the centre has been the result of extensive input from a large number of consumers and carers with lived experience of severe and complex mental health issues in young people following the closure of the Barrett Centre in 2013/14 and the recommendations of a Commission of Inquiry into that closure.

Jacaranda Place is a 12 bed inpatient facility that will also house a Day Program allowing young people to transition appropriately to and from treatment services. This means there were always be more than 12 young people utilising the centre. It’s hoped that the education program onsite will operate as the Barrett Adolescent Centre School did in providing for not only those young people in active treatment at the centre but for those who have moved from Jacaranda Place to treatment in the community but for whom continuity of education will ensure stability and ongoing progress. (Note that the Barrett School continues to be a vital service since its relocation to Tennyson where it now serves as a Support School for young people with severe mental health issues who don’t require long-stay inpatient care.)

BrisbaneTimesjacarandaplace2The new centre will be the base for approximately 45 medical, nursing and allied health professionals and 10 specialist educators and the Health Department is aware that those with lived experience are keen for the staff at the centre to be a valuable resource for those throughout the state dealing with the significant challenges that severe mental illness can impose on young people and their families throughout Queensland. With the lack of research worldwide into the severe and complex cohort of young people, Jacaranda Place could help not only those with direct contact with the centre but many more if the Health Department’s dedicated approach to those affected by severe youth mental health continues past the centre’s opening. Thanks to the proactive approach to co-design and collaboration taken by Queensland Health – spearheaded by Director General John Wakefield, there remains great potential for enduring benefits to take place in and beyond this new contemporary facility.

As the Premier made today’s announcement, she emphasised the importance of the new centre in the context of the tragic closure of its predecessor under Health Minister Lawrence Springborg and Premier Campbell Newman.

What happened after the Barrett Centre closed was an absolute tragedy which should never have happened,” the Premier said.

“I remember meeting with the families involved and being deeply moved by their stories, that’s why I made a commitment that we would build a new centre. I thank them for their time, their selflessness and their bravery in discussing what must have been times of terrible trial and suffering for them and their loved ones. Their input has been valuable, and will no doubt prove life-saving for future patients. I’m so proud to stand here today at the new Jacaranda Place which will ensure young people in need of mental health services get the very best possible care.”

Where the new name is concerned, Frank Tracey, Chief Executive of Children’s Health Queensland, the Hospital and Health Service with responsibility for Jacaranda Place said today:

“The name reflects the strength and resilience of the Jacaranda Tree, which represents wisdom, rebirth and good luck. It is a hardy tree that grows in difficult conditions and once a year, its true beauty is shown in full colour. The name also reflects the centre’s location and the views overlooking Jacaranda trees along Farnell Street. … [It is] a distinct and purposeful name for the centre – one that is both welcoming and representative of the stories of hope, dignity and recovery we want the centre to be known for.”

The press release announcing the naming of Jacaranda Place can be read in full here

and

7 News Gold Coast has posted Facebook video of an emotional press conference given by the Premier about Jacaranda Place opening here.

Also …

Updates of the progress of the building and construction of Jacaranda Place (including photos and video) can be found at Queensland Health’s Youth Mental Health site here.

Jacaranda Place will officially open in April so patient admission will not begin until that time.


severeyouthmentalhealth.org will keep you posted regarding the centre’s operation.