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The Mater Young Adult Health Centre has successfully implemented a new and unique patient support program targeted to people receiving treatment at Mater aged 16 – 25 years called Thrive.
The Thrive program is designed to help patients impacted by chronic medical conditions including cancer, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders or rheumatism which have impacted their social development, everyday life skills and mental health.
Patients who are regularly coming to Mater for medical treatment are linked in with the Young Adult Health Centre for emotional support on their health journey and are selected based on need to participate in the six week program.
Young Adult Support Unit Clinician Tamara Addley coordinates the program and has seen fantastic results so far.
“We have a group of between 10-12 participants who embark on this journey with us to get to know themselves and form an identity of who they are outside their illness,” she said.
“Many of these patients have limited connections in society due to the nature of their illnesses, they have missed out on school, not been able to create lasting friendships or find stable employment.
“This program is incredibly important for their development as a young person as we are teaching them social skills, managing mental health and giving them the tools they need to be active members of society.”
A typical day at Thrive starts where participants come in for a cup of tea, have something to eat, settle in and connect with their therapist.
The participants move into an interactive workshop where they do different activities learning who they are as a person, developing social skills, learning about healthy relationships, how to form friendships, how to manage stress and emotional health.
“We then go into a cooking session where we are teaching simple, healthy, quick, low cost meals they can replicate at home. Sometimes we really have to go back to basics where we teach knife skills, how to crack an egg,” Tamara explains.
“When the food is ready we sit down and have a “family meal” together where we talk about our day and everyone has a turn to share. Sometimes we invite guests from hospital to join us.
“The afternoon creative session involves painting, drawing or collage to explore the topic or theme of the day. It is where young people can explore the unspoken, their emotions and consolidate coping skills. Sometimes young people create their own individual art, and sometimes a joint group art piece is created.”
Tamara hopes that long term the program will give patients the skills to learn who they are, be confident, accept who they are, be fearless and go out and do what they want to do in life.
“This can be anything from finding a job, going on to do tertiary study, complete an apprenticeship or live independently,” she said.
“We are enhancing not only their physical health but their mental health and we have seen the program is really changing people’s lives.”
Tamara explains that real progress has been seen after a participant shared before the program he was considering ending his life but since being in Thrive was feeling better and did not have those negative thoughts and felt very solid connection in the group.
“Mental Health is a growing issue and the statistics are telling us it’s getting worse in our society. Sadly there are not a lot of services in the community however especially in the mild to moderate space,” Tamara said.
“Mater is very unique in the services we provide, the Thrive program is very unique and it’s very needed. We hope to continue the work we are doing and changing people’s lives for the better.”
Recently Thrive recieved a grant from Transurban which will help provide resources for future programs helping more young people.
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