An artist impression of the facility. Each bedroom will have an ensuite bathroom. PHOTO: SUPPLIED/22021405
Rarotonga’s long-awaited mental health facility is set to cost $1 million.
Te Marae Ora (TMO) Ministry of Health has released the
figure, confirming it will cover the building, landscaping, fixtures, fittings
It is estimated the facility will be completed in
July/August, “a slight delay to the original completion date of June, due to
supply chain matters”, a Te Marae Ora spokeswoman said.
So far contractors have completed a retaining wall at
the site, a driveway extension and most of the site clearance.
Land Holdings Limited submitted a successful tender
after the Cook Islands Investment Corporation on behalf of Te Marae Ora
Ministry of Health, invited tenders for the construction in November.
The building will have the capacity to accommodate
four patients at a time and only patients requiring acute care will be
Cook Islands Investment Corporation design and project
officer Sally Hosking-Naea, the architect for the project, said the design
would allow for the building to be expanded should the need arise in the
Key therapeutic features embedded in the design
include internal and external courtyards, natural lighting and views of the
landscape, safe and comfortable resting areas, and warm finishing tones, she
In November Te Marae Ora clinical psychologist Dr
Evangelene Daniela-Wong said there is a dire need for facilities to allow for
the care of patients with severe mental health disorders.
Dr Daniela-Wong acknowledged it was unfortunate that
patients have had to be placed in Arorangi Prison for their safety and the
safety of others in the community.
Because the population is so small, it had been hard
to financially justify a new building.
The increase in mental health cases and numbers, and
the subsequent need for a space that can promote recovery and wellbeing, and
safety had become paramount.
The building plans had come through several redesign
phases “to ensure TMO’s model of care – promoting mental health wellbeing and
enabling reintegration of patients as productive members of society, can be
The final design features a “therapeutic,
non-institutional and safe environment to facilitate compassionate mental
In November Dr Daniela-Wong confirmed Te Marae Ora
would employ more staff, with a particular interest in non-clinical staff with
therapeutic and life skills, like arts and music, to work at the facility.
All staff would receive escalation, calming and
restraint, and mental health training; each shift would have a mental health
specialist on duty.
Strategies to increase staffing capability in the
specialised field form part of the health ministry’s 2021-2025 workforce
The project is delivered as a partnership between Te
Marae Ora and Cook Islands Investment Corporation, and funded by the Cook