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Supporting families . . . Volunteer co-ordinator of the newly established "283" respite care house in Middleton Rd, Amanda Reid (left), and keen visitor Emily Dwyer PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

A labour of love for a Dunedin woman could be the light at the end of the tunnel for families desperately searching for respite care for their teenage and adult children.

Amanda Reid, with years of experience in working with disabled people, has spent months voluntarily working with agencies and families to establish a new respite house in the city.

“It has been a passion for me to establish this house to help meet the massive need for respite care in Dunedin,” Mrs Reid said.

Located at 283 Middleton Rd in Corstorphine, adjacent to the St Clair Residential facility, the house – dubbed “283” – has five bedrooms, two bathrooms, and is wheelchair accessible.

Mrs Reid highlighted the generosity of the building’s owner, Ross Alexander, who had responded positively to her ideas.

Mr Alexander paid tribute to Mrs Reid for her passion for helping people.

“She has really been the driving force behind this project, and she is doing a great job,” he said.

Mrs Reid said friends and family had been hugely supportive, donating furniture and household items to make the house comfortable and homely.

Disability funding agencies Access Ability and Manawanui in Charge, along with ACC, were also supportive, she said.

The concept for the house is for families to rent a room for their family member and then contract a carer to provide support. The house will not be permanently staffed.

“It gives more freedom to families to choose who their family member stays with during their respite break and the option of two families joining together to contract one carer.”

Among the first people to spend a night at the house was Dunedin teenager Emily Dwyer (17), who invited two friends to join her for pizza, board games and a DVD, under the supervision of Mrs Reid and husband Dave.

“It was a really fun night,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to coming back.”

Emily’s mother, Lauren Watkins, is “over the moon” about the establishment of the respite-care house.

Bringing up children with disabilities was both extremely rewarding and exhausting, she said.

“So, having respite care from time to time is vital, and the options are very limited in Dunedin,” Mrs Watkins said.

An open day will be held at 283 Middleton Rd this Sunday, from 1pm to 3pm, to give families a chance to look around the facility.

For information, phone Amanda Reid on 0274 370-635, or email daveandamandareid@gmail.com.