Chaitanya Halfway Home for Schizophrenics
For a schizophrenic, life oscillates between nightmarish experiences and periods of normalcy. For the family members, it is the pain of seeing a loved one indulge in bizarre behavior and get increasingly alienated. Over time as the disorder progresses, behavior can get increasingly violent, causing a strain on even close relationships. This is where the Chaitanya Halfway Home for Schizophrenics comes into prominence.
The Home, a rehabilitation centre for schizophrenics, seeks to incorporate schizophrenics into society. Located in Dhankawadi, Pune, it is a small bungalow which houses thirteen residents from different parts of Pune. Brought here by their relatives, the residents find a place wherein they are provided with therapy and counseling, besides food and shelter. Started five months ago, the home is also the first of its kind in Pune.
“We don’t call them inmates, we call them residents”, stresses Ronnie George from the very beginning. George, a social worker, is actively involved in the affairs of the home and even helps with the group therapy and counseling sessions which sometimes take place twice a day. “The stress is on structuring their routine”, he continues. The routine is chalked out for them. “They get up at 6.30 in the morning and go for a small, supervised walk in the compound. Then, they help with the household chores, making their beds and cleaning their rooms. A resident might share a room with two or three other residents”, says George. The focus is also to impart a sense of identity. Which is why residents are encouraged to give names to their rooms and also choose a new room in–charge every month.
“At mealtimes, the importance of taking medication is stressed. Then there is a group therapy session which varies every week. It could be art therapy one time, recreation or even movement therapy next, so that routine does not become boring”, says George. The home also has other social workers and psychologists like Dr. Hemant Chandorkar and Dr. S Deshpande who work in tandem, helping with counseling and therapy for all the residents. Therapy is also provided to relatives thrice a month.
Besides following an as near routine as possible, the residents also celebrate festivals like the recently celebrated rang panchami festival. Life for these residents might never be completely normal. But at this home they can at least hope for a semblance of normalcy in their daily lives. And as for the emotional upheavals caused by this traumatic disorder, therapy sessions which foster understanding are the first step towards acceptance.
Ronnie George will welcome any questions on schizophrenia and the home.