Delhi

Halfway homes set to open in city

Taking charge:The halfway homes will be run by the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences in Dilshad Garden.File Photo: V. Sudershan

Taking charge:The halfway homes will be run by the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences in Dilshad Garden.File Photo: V. Sudershan  

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The project, which takes off after a four-year delay, will invite better care for the mentally ill

: As many as five halfway homes are set to become operational in the Capital by the year-end. A policy to this effect was approved by the Delhi government last month.

Halfway homes provide rehabilitation facilities to the mentally ill. To run these homes, the government has given the charge to the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), one of Delhi’s biggest hospitals for the mentally ill, in east Delhi’s Dilshad Garden.

At present, mentally ill patients are sent to government-run homes such as Asha Kiran and Asha Jyoti. Doctors at Asha Kiran, Rohini, however, told The Hindu that they were equipped to cater to mentally challenged patients only. While mental illnesses can be treated, mental retardation is permanent impairment.

Difference in treatment

“Mentally challenged patients need care. But mentally ill patients solicit a completely different kind of treatment. Every time they complain of health issues, we have to take them all the way to IHBAS (around 38 km away) as our doctors cannot prescribe them medicines,” said Rachna Bhardwaj, superintendent of Asha Kiran’s women wing.

Of the 934 residents at Asha Kiran, 571 are mentally ill. Interestingly, Asha Kiran has a sanctioned capacity of 510. The staff at the home said the influx of mentally ill patients into their facility had increased over the years.

“The chances of recovery of mentally ill patients are lower in such an environment as they need to be under the constant supervision of doctors. But, we are doing our best with limited resources,” said Pankaj Verma, superintendent of the male wing at Asha Kiran.

“Now, with the halfway homes set to open, we are hopeful that the mentally ill will be able to get better treatment,” he added.

According to officials, the proposal for making halfway homes was made after directions from the High Court on March 12, 2009, after a public interest litigation was filed on the issue. Consequently, five such homes –three in Rohini, one in Dwarka and one in Narela- were readied in 2012. It is only now that they will be up and running.

“The demand for such a facility is very high, but it is sad that these buildings have remained vacant for so long,” said Dr. Ruchika of Tulasi Home, the city’s sole halfway home in Chhattarpur, which is run by an NGO.

‘Lax attitude’

According to the staff at IHBAS, the implementation of the project was delayed due to the government’s lax attitude, and more because of the stigma attached to mental illnesses.

IHBAS authorities, however, don’t seem too upbeat about taking up the task. Delhi government officials said the hospital had been reluctant to take over the project for years. “IHBAS is the best institution to run halfway homes. However, they had repeatedly refused to take up the responsibility.”

When The Hindu spoke to members of IHBAS’s administration, they said the homes were scattered all over Delhi, and would be difficult to manage. Moreover, after the High Court order, IHBAS was assigned only to help the Delhi government in implementing the policy. “Over the years , IHBAS was asked only to provide technical back-up but not operationalise the homes,” said a doctor at IHBAS, who wished not be named. He claimed that the decision was imposed on them, and that an agency from the social sector should run the homes.

IHBAS director Nimesh Desai, however, said that a team from the hospital had already visited the homes. “We have started working on the project. We will work in the interest of the public, regardless of our technical opinion and policy position,” said Mr. Desai.



At present, mentally ill patients are sent to government-run homes meant for the mentally challenged



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Printable version | Nov 22, 2019 12:27:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/Halfway-homes-set-to-open-in-city/article14558426.ece

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