For Family

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi engari he toa takimano  |  My strength is not that of an individual but that of a collective.

We recognise that contact with family/whānau, friends and other support people is an important part of a person’s recovery, so we are committed to the implementation of an effective working relationship between family/whānau and staff.

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Family Orientation

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi engari he toa takimano.
My strength is not that of an individual but that of a collective.

“You believed that our daughter could be helped right from the beginning and got her to a state where she has a lot more resilience.”

– A Patient’s Parent

  • Your Involvement
  • Patient Contact
  • Staff Contact
  • Visiting & Accommodation

We recognise the importance of family/whānau and support people in a patient's recovery, and seek to form effective working relationships with them within the context of what is considered most beneficial for the patient. Meetings with family/whānau and friends to discuss appropriate aspects of treatment may form part of the therapeutic programme. The patient will identify family/whānau and support people and, in discussion with the clinical team, determine the level of involvement.

Members of the Clinical Team will be available for meetings with family/whānau to share information about the progress of the patient and discuss timeframes of treatment, general topics and discharge plans (with the patient’s consent). Contact is made with the family/whānau by staff if it is considered that a joint meeting involving the patient, family and Ashburn staff (usually the psychiatrist and nurse) would be beneficial for the patient's treatment (again, only with the patient's agreement). There is a family/whānau meeting room available for patients and families to meet in the hospital, and Ashburn also offers family/whānau accommodation for visits from out-of-town families. Zoom calls can also be arranged.

We encourage patients to contact their family/whānau directly to keep them informed of their progress and well-being. Members of the clinical team can also be available for meetings with family/whānau (with the patient's consent).

View our Family/Whānau & Friends brochure on our Downloads page

The best way to contact your family/whānau or friend is directly, rather than through our reception desk. Most patients bring their own cellphone or laptop which they are able to use to contact support people and receive calls (outside group and meeting times). There is a patient telephone for incoming and outgoing calls and we have computers available in the patient areas for emails and Skype calls.

On admission, the emergency contact is usually contacted and invited to liaise with the inpatient unit staff if they want to pass on information or have questions or concerns. However the therapeutic community programme is full and it may take some time for a staff member to return your call. If your need for contact is urgent, please let our Reception staff know (03) 476-2092. 

Notifications: if you are listed as a patient’s emergency contact person, nursing staff will be in touch if that patient is to be transferred out of Ashburn to another hospital, or if there is some other significant event (eg. if they are absent for a long period of time without consent). Family/support people nominated by patients are routinely contacted by staff during patient admission or discharge processes.

Due to our current Covid-19 prevention and response strategy, we are not currently offering on-site visitor accommodation. If you are from out of Dunedin and need advice or assistance in planning your visit with a patient at Ashburn, please call our Reception staff on (03) 476-2092 or email

Learn more about available

Mental Health Resources

If you need help NOW, or want to read more about mental health and where to get help, browse these recommended resources.

If you need help now, there are several helplines you could ring where you will find helpful, friendly advice, 24/7.

Healthline: 0800 611 116
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865
Lifeline Aotearoa: 0800 543 354
Alcohol Drug Helpline: 0800 787 797
Youthline: 0800 376 633 or text 234
Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 or text 4202
Samaritans Aotearoa: 0800 726 666

It can be difficult watching a loved one struggle. The following websites may be able to help you understand what your loved one is going through, and how you might be able to help them.

Ministry of Health – mental health and addictions
Need to talk?  1737
ALAC – for help and advice on alcohol
Southern DHB Alcohol & Drug Services – Community Alcohol & Drug Services (Dunedin)
CADS – national website
The Low Down – a website to help young New Zealanders recognise and understand depression and anxiety
Mental Health Foundation
NZ Drug Foundation – educating, advising and standing up for healthy approaches to alcohol and drugs
High Alert – for drug information and alerts 
Skylight Trust – supporting children, young people, and their whānau to navigate through tough times.

Privacy: due to privacy legislation we cannot confirm a patient’s status, refer phone calls or release information without the patient’s prior permission.

Concerns or complaints: any issues not resolved through the usual communication channels can be brought to the attention of the Medical Director.

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