A project, which encourages people to open their homes and hearts to shelter and care for discharged psychiatric patients and those with intellectual disabilities, is on a recruitment drive in the northern suburbs.
The Rose Parent Project has been around for 28 years. It started at the old Westlake Hospital, now Lentegeur Hospital, when staff noticed that patients whose conditions had improved enough for them to be discharged were battling to reintegrate into society and had to remain in-patients because they had lost all contact with their relatives and had nowhere to go.
Western Cape Health spokeswoman Bianca Carls said although the project has seen many successes with over 200 patients placed to date, support for the project in the northern suburbs had waned, with the last Rose Parent in the suburb, having recently retired.
Ms Carls says each patient placed in the care of a Rose Parent has been given a chance to be a fully functioning member of society, to exercise all his/her rights and to be part of a family, a community.
“The success is the fact that each Rose Parent is a hero, a person who places their own needs aside to do something for humanity, a person who without special qualifications and no remuneration changes the life of another person. There can be no greater success than this,” she said. The project hopes to recruit more parents from all suburbs this year by targeting churches, social organisations, NGOs and NPOS, in the northern suburbs, as placement remains a challenge for individuals with a mental illness.
Ms Carls says a big challenge for the department is that many families refuse to take these patients back into their homes, coupled with limited residential facilities and homes in the province available to accommodate patients.
Facilities in the northern suburbs include the Alta Du Toit Aftercare in Boston, a residential facility for individuals with Down syndrome; Advance Homecare in Parow, which offers residential services for people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia and the Brigadoon Lodge in Durbanville for people with intellectual disabilities.
During the 2015/2016 financial year four psychiatric hospitals, Lentegeur, Stikland, Alexandra and Valkenberg, and two sub-acute, facilities, New Beginnings and William Slater, collectively admitted 6 733 patients and attended to 43 921 patients at outpatient departments. In the 2014/2015 financial year, the four psychiatric hospitals admitted 5 944 patients and attended to 40 409 patients at outpatient departments.
With the growing need and the long waiting periods for residential facilities, Ms Carls, says community involvement has become a vital part of the public healthcare system. Ms Carls says the care provided by Rose Parents enables patients to be fully integrated in their community and as a result have their dignity restored to them.
For more information on the Rose Parent Project and details on how to become a parent contact Lentegeur Hospital social worker Jacqueline Heynes at Jacqueline.Heynes@westerncape.gov.za or 021 370 1476.