At the Institute of Mental Health, one of the primary hospitals for mental health in Singapore, there are many long-term residents. Find out how a new programme aims to re-train patients to work and care for themselves, so that they can have hope of one day returning to a normal life.
Singapore’s Institute of Mental Health (IMH) houses over 1,100 people on a more or less permanent basis. Many of these individuals have no family and no financial resources to enable them to seek treatment in different facility, so they are regular residents of IMH, known as “long-stayers.” Some of them are there because they have relapsed so many times that their families refused to take them back.
The Cleaner’s Routine
One long-stayer, a 65-year-old man, has lived at the Institute of Mental Health for 11 years, since he has no family to care for him. With his severe schizophrenia, he cannot live by himself. However, he recently reclaimed some of his independence. Through a special program at IMH, this man was able to get a job as a cleaner.
Now, he works daily at his job, stopping at lunchtime for Nasi Lemak and soya milk in the IMH food court. At the end of the day, he goes back to his room to eat dinner and watch TV.
The Work Programme
The IMH hospital has 2,000 beds, and 1,128 of those are taken up with long-stayers. The hospital has begun a slow, steady reintegration programme for some of its stable patients, giving them additional freedom and responsibility. Like the 65-year-old cleaner, these long-stayers are given basic jobs and paid a small amount in return for their work.
The End Goal
The programme is designed to gradually teach the stable patients new skills and encourage them to begin working for compensation. The patients gain confidence in themselves and their abilities, and they begin to rely less and less on the structure of the IMH life. The long-term goal is to gently re-integrate some of the patients into normal life, enabling them to leave the hospital and live in a rehab community or with family members.
Benefits on Both Sides
Moving some patients out of the long-stay ward opens up beds for new patients coming in. It also cuts down on hospital expenses, enabling equipment upgrades and larger supply budgets. Plus, the added responsibility of work boosts confidence and motivation for patients that may have lost hope of ever leaving or taking care of themselves again.
Recovery with Help from an Expert Psychiatrist in Singapore
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Source: Straits Times, 1 Oct 2017