New home for mental health patients

2012-02-13 00:00

A NEW place, more open space and greater facilities in a quiet and secure area: these have been a dream for the Pietermaritzburg Mental Health Society, one that has finally been realised.

Replacing the Senior Training Centre, a new residential facility, The Palms, was officially opened on Friday after months spent renovating the Natal Children’s Home in Napierville that closed down in 2010. It is one of the PMB Mental Health Society’s six residential facilities and provides 24-hour comprehensive care for adults with a mental disability.

Said Maureen Vida, the chairperson of the PMB Mental Health Society: “While there are some residents who are taking a while to adjust to the new building, there are some who are responding positively to the open space, and in some cases it has even helped patients who had extreme behavioural problems in the old facility.”

The aim of the society is to rehabilitate mental health patients who have been discharged from hospital, helping them in their return to society, and to educate the public about mental health.

Residents at The Palms are taught basic life skills and are expected to be responsible for themselves and participate in daily tasks and chores where possible.

The facility provides residents with a range of sporting and recreational activities and has recently added horse riding to its programme.

“The centre is a great milestone in the history of the mental health society,” said Aroo Naidoo, one of the board members.

“We wanted to create a home for the residents, something that they can be proud of that gives them a quality life and dignity and where they live and interact with peers and staff who understand them.”

Able to accommodate 61 residents, The Palms is already full, but has a short waiting list.

“There’s a lot that we still want to do,” said deputy director Philippa Manning.

“We have dreams to expand the facility and are hoping to hire out the hall at some stage. There is still much to be done to provide additional comforts for the residents. We are looking to establish the vegetable garden as a viable market garden to provide much needed income.”

The facility is funded in part by the provincial Social Development Department, which subsidises each individual resident; the residents and their families also contribute. The society raises funds to cover the shortfall and is always open to volunteers who might want to help.

The new facility’s wish list includes plants, garden equipment, swimming pool equipment, pool chemicals, paving and concrete benches and tables.

Volunteers or interested parties should visit www.pmbmhs.org.za for more information.

• The Palms is looking for any photos or pictures of the old Children’s Home and its staff and residents. Call Philippa at 033 392 7240.

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