A new residential centre will be a home for children with complex behavioural and mental health needs.

Hockley House is being created from buildings owned by Hampshire County Council in Romsey. 

Previously known as Hayter House, in Hayter Gardens, it was most recently operating as an adults day centre and a register office, but had been sitting vacant.

It will provide a home for three children aged between 12 and 17 and associated staff. It is for chidlren who need care that their paretns or guardians are unable to provide – the hope is that the intensive care at Hockley House will stabilise them and enable them to move either back home or into shared care accommodation.

The council agreed last summer to spend £1.2m converting the building.

Stephanie How, the council’s area director in the children’s service department, indicated that the initiative “is an answer to a gap in the service delivery across health and children social care”.

During the children’s and families advisory panel on Monday (February 6), area director Kieran Lyons said: “This is an exciting opportunity for us to create something different from what we have now.

“We are hoping that with this therapeutic model, which will have a lot of psychological and psychiatric input, we can manage these children in a different way that requires less staff, and hence it would be less intrusive for children.

“We think this model is more effective with the right level of care, on the right kind of environment.”

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Young people who have displayed challenging behaviour and present a risk to themselves or others will be welcomed to the house.

“Children who have suffered suicide attempts, self-harming, hospital admission, difficulty controlling themselves, and a tendency to aggressiveness and violence will have a place at the house”, added Helen Gunniss, service lead manager.

She said this hybrid model between health care and children’s social services “is much more effective since it will give the kid the proper care”.

“It is a multiagency approach, a collaboration between children’s social care and our health partners as well as other parents involved”, she added.

Placements are expected to last about six to nine months.

The home will see three self-contained maisonettes. Each maisonette has planned to maximise independence and life skills. The house will also have a communal family kitchen, dining area and outdoor spaces.

Mr Lyons pointed out that there is a “cohort of young people that require solo placement in Hampshire, but actual settings are not designed to contain children like this.

“We don’t have the environment that can do both at the moment. And it can’t be right to keep children isolated for an extended period.

“This project aims to create one. At Hockley House, they can be isolated, but they can also be integrated into the same, and we can model that.

“This place will have some features that allow us to be restrictive until children are stabilized and not harming themselves or others.

Councilor Steve Forster praised the initiative as he spoke about his personal experience.

“I am so excited about this new approach because we will provide ways for young people who are troubled to have the opportunity not to be institutionalised, which is one of the fundamental problems of the current models.

“We can show a different way of working. These will avoid institutionalisation and allow integration and independence when appropriate. Not too soon, not too late, with the right balance of care.

The home should open its doors in early autumn 2023.