BACKGROUND:Numerous studies across international settings have highlighted a need to improve the appropriateness and continuity of services for young people experiencing mental ill health. This paper examines key features of a sub-acute youth mental health residential service model, Youth Prevention and Recovery Care (Y-PARC) service. Y-PARC provides up to 4 weeks care to 16 to 25 year-olds at risk of hospitalisation and to those transitioning out of hospital inpatient units. The research was conducted at one of three Y-PARCs located in Victoria, Australia. METHODS:This paper presents findings from analysis of two data sources collected during evaluation of a Y-PARC service in 2015-17. Routinely collected administrative data of Y-PARC residents (n = 288) were analysed and semi-structured interviews were conducted with 38 participants: a) former residents (n = 14); b) family members of group a) (n = 5); key stakeholders (n = 9); and, Y-PARC staff (n = 10 respondents in 3 group interviews). Analysis of the qualitative data was thematic and structured by the interview guide, which covered the key service aims. RESULTS:Consistent with the aims of the service, respondents described practice at Y-PARC that aligns with recovery-oriented care. Key features emphasised were: a safe and welcoming environment for residents and families; provision of person-centred care; promotion of autonomy and self-help; informal interactions with staff allowing for formation of naturalistic relationships; time spent with other young people with similar experiences; and, assurance upon exit that the 'door is always open.' High levels of satisfaction were reported. Outcomes described included: improved resilience; better understanding of mental health; the importance of seeking help; and, stronger connections to therapeutic services. Longer and multiple stays were associated with progressive and sustained change. Family members and stakeholders widely reported that the service fills a gap between community services and acute inpatient mental health hospital wards. Some challenging areas of practice identified included: integration of evidence-based psychosocial interventions; provision of care within a model that blends clinical and psychosocial support services; and, negotiation of family-inclusive practice. CONCLUSIONS:The Y-PARC service model shows promise with young people experiencing mental ill health, particularly in improving the range and availability of options across a spectrum of need.