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At Nagpur Mental Hospital, kin invited to have lunch, spend time with inmates daily

Health officials believe that involvement of families with the patients will not only help in recovery, but also ease rehabilitation of the patients after discharge.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai |
January 7, 2017 3:12:25 am
nagpur mental hospital, mental hospital, mental patients family, mental patients, nagpur news, india news, indian express A patient at the Nagpur Mental Hospital is served food by a relative. Authorities believe such regular contact with their families will make the transition of mental patients back into society smoother. Express Photo

Every day at the Nagpur Mental hospital, families of around four inmates come over at 11 am. Some serve food to the patients, others sit and chat with them for a few hours. The initiative is part of a pilot project started by the Maharashtra government in December, under which relatives of mentally ill patients are encouraged to come spend time with them over lunch and see closely the treatment they are receiving.

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According to medical superintendent Dr Praveen Navkhare, the initiative has been started in the women’s ward of the 940-bed hospital. Health officials believe that involvement of families with the patients — beyond the official appointments they would earlier make — will not only help in recovery, but also ease rehabilitation of the patients after discharge.

According to Dr Sadhana Tayde, joint director at Directorate of Health Services (DHS), the program will be replicated in government-run mental hospitals of Thane, Pune and Ratnagiri following its success in Nagpur.

“We come across several patients whose families abandon them after their hospitalisation. This activity is an attempt to re-establish their connection and show them how the patient is treated for mental illness,” Tayade said.

The hospital houses 620 patients. In the Thane mental hospital, there are 1,850 beds, Pune’s Yerawada hospital has 2,540 beds and the one in Ratnagiri has 365 beds.

“A lot of patients face difficulty in rehabilitation. After discharge, they refuse to return home. If the family keeps meeting them, the transition into society becomes easier,” Dr Manish Renghe, in-charge of mental health cell, said.

According to Navkhare, the process also assures the family of the quality of treatment given to their kin. The relatives are encouraged to see how patients line up to eat, serve them the food and eat with them.

“In the past, we had received complaints of poor-quality food given to patients. When the families see and serve food to patients, they are assured it has been cooked well,” Navkhare said.

Meanwhile, the DHS is also set to submit a proposal to the state that will allow class IV employees to be rotated every six years from the mental hospital to other district hospitals or health centres.

The move comes after several patients complained of harassment at the hands of class IV workers who have been posted permanently in the same hospital, unlike doctors who are transferred every three years.

With divisional cadre and rotation of ward boys, the fear of corruption and harassment of patients is expected to lessen.

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