By Emalee Gillis, NAMI Spokane Blog Editor.

While at a peer led conference in San Diego, CA, Becky Hammill, Passages CEO learned about peer respite programs operated by peer-run organizations in New York and Massachusetts.  Inspired, Hammill put the wheels in motion for a Respite House for people in low levels of behavioral health crisis in Northeast Washington.  Through a partnership with the CEO of People USA that was facilitated by the Washington State Health Care Authority, the idea of peer respite became a statewide initiative and Passages was the recipient of a capital grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce that was specifically to build a respite house in the Spokane area.

A few months ago, Hammill’s vision came to life when Passages opened Termonn on Passages’ main campus located at 1700 S Assembly Rd., Spokane. Termonn is a Gaelic word that means sanctuary. This type of facility is a first in the Spokane area; there is a second peer respite in Kennewick “Three Rivers”. Peer Respite is based on the recovery model of behavioral health and is completely voluntary. Peer respite provides peer-based support services in a home-like setting for individuals experiencing emotional distress. Peer Respite works with individuals to help them maintain and move forward with their recovery from serious behavioral health challenges. Program participants are referred to as guests and the maximum length of stay is seven (7) days within a 30-day period per respite home. The intent of Peer Respite is to provide peer driven stabilization services to help individuals avoid higher levels of behavioral health care such as hospitalization.

Termonn is staffed by Certified Peer Counselors (CPC’s).   CPC’s are individuals with lived experience that have passed the Health Care Authorities 40 hour certification class.  A mental health professional who also identifies as a CPC supervises the program and conducts the initial clinical assessment for entrance in to the program.

Peer Respite services are available 24/7/365 to individuals aged 18 and older who reside in Spokane, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Adams, Ferry, or Lincoln County. Individuals must be psychiatrically and medically stable.  Medicaid enrolled/eligible or non-Medicaid individuals living between 139%-220% of the federal poverty level are eligible and for these individuals there is no cost. Passages is working with commercial/private insurance carriers and hopes to have this resource available for individuals insured under those plans (i.e., Premera Blue Cross) in the near future.

There are four guest suites that include a private bathrooms.  Guests have access to several common areas throughout the house including a great room with a TV, books, and games available. The house has a fully equipped kitchen and laundry room. In the covered patio outside, guests can exercise, just be outside, or smoke. In the common areas guests can be among others or if they prefer, they can have quiet time in their rooms. Monday-Thursday guests can also access peer led groups at Passages main building which is located on the same campus as Termonn.  Guests are free to come and go as they please.

According to Brad Naccarato, Marketing Coordinator at Passages, “Those in treatment find comfort in receiving services from someone who comes from a similar background.” Naccarato said, “One of the greatest services we provide is temporarily removing the guest from a stressful environment. The respite house is quiet and comfortable and a place to focus on self-care. Sometimes that is all a guest needs.”

The experiences of guests have been very positive in these first few months since opening..

This is how one guest described their experience:

“Being here finally gave me a chance to reorganize my thoughts away from the chaos at home. I felt like every single staff person who worked here was exactly what I needed for that day and for the first time in a long time, I finally feel like I can make the first steps toward getting my life back on track. You all have given me so much in the way of resources and just being there. I really needed this more than I thought.”

Another guest said,

“This place is beautiful and comfortable, and a dream come true for me. I really needed this!”

To explore whether you or a loved one could benefit from Passages Termonn Peer Respite, contact Passages at 509-892-9241, Monday through Thursday  9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday 9:00 am-Noon.