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Failed Gauteng’s health department policy hit hard on the mentally ill

By Makoma Phaladi

Life Esidimeni’s psychiatric hospital has left hundreds of families who depended on the centre to care for their mentally ill family members in disappointment after the Gauteng’s health department terminated the centre’s contract earlier this year the decision being taken last year October.

The centre was reported to have provided in-patient care, treatment and rehabilitation for people with chronic psychiatric disorders and severe intellectual disability. According to Life Healthcare the hospital cared for about 1900 patients.

Etv’s checkpoint took a look at some of the families that had to cope with living with a mentally ill loved one after the closure of Life Esidimeni.

Families opened up about the challenges they were faced with when home away from home was no longer available to cater for their affected loved ones who needed care.

Speaking to Checkpoint, the mother of one of the patients that stayed at Life Esidimeni was experiencing difficulties looking after her daughter Sophia Molefe who has a chronic and severe mental disorder “why did they have to close down the care centre because it provided care for the mentally ill” she said.

The mother is reported to be having a hard time as she cannot control her mentally ill daughter and even struggles to get her to drink her medicine.

With some of the former patients of the psychiatric hospital staying with families, others have opt for care from local NGO’s in their communities but however the care is said to be “drastically lower” than the 24 hour care which was given at Esidimeni.

The closure of the hospital has changed the lives of many families as they do not have skills of a trained care giver to look after their mentally ill loved ones.

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