Group home for mentally ill in Chandigarh: ‘With just 8 rooms, Cheshire Home can’t meet city’s needs’

Against a demand of 70, the Cheshire Home has the capacity to house only 16 persons with mental issues
Parents of young adults with mental issues feel UT’s decision to set up group home in Sector 21 is rushed and lacks planning.(HT FILE PHOTO)
Parents of young adults with mental issues feel UT’s decision to set up group home in Sector 21 is rushed and lacks planning.(HT FILE PHOTO)
Published on Sep 29, 2020 01:08 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By, Chandigarh

The recent decision of the UT administration to convert the Cheshire Home in Sector 21 into a group home for persons with mental issues has invited more criticism.

Those associated with the welfare of people battling mental issues have highlighted the inadequacy of the facility to meet the needs for the beneficiaries.

The UT administration in a meeting held on July 11, 2019, had asked Aditya Vikram Rametra, managing trustee, Pushpanjali Trust, to provide a list of potential/prospective beneficiaries of the group home.

“We conducted a survey among 31 psychiatrists of the city. As per their feedback, around 400 people need a group home. But not all of them need it immediately or at one time. Immediate need for a group in the city is for around 70 people,” said Rametra.

Bhupinder Kaur Sidhu, a mother of an adult with mental illness, in a letter to the UT adviser, highlighted the limitation of the proposed group home: “Out of nine rooms, one room will have to be for the residential staff. The remaining eight rooms can accommodate a maximum of 16 residents.”

MHA intervention

The administration last year had decided that Cheshire Home will be used as a halfway home for mentally ill persons, and an affidavit was also submitted in the Supreme Court to that effect. The administration had finally made a move to implement the decision in August this year.

ALSO READ: NGO objects to UT admn decision to convert Cheshire Home

The parents and residents had written to the Union ministry of home affairs calling out the delay in creation of a group home. On August 24, MHA officials had then written to the UT administration seeking a report on the issue at the earliest.

The decision to set up a group home, rather than a halfway home, at the facility in Sector 21 had followed. The halfway home will instead come up in the Disability Assessment Rehabilitation and Triage (DART) building in Sector 32.

Rametra said, “Administration should draft a basic framework, which will incorporate issues like need assessment, paying and non-paying categories, selection procedure, etc.”

On ‘encroachers’

The September 23 press statement of the administration had described the current residents of the Home as “encroachers”, but the minutes of the meeting held on July 11, 2019, clearly stated, “At present, 17 disabled persons are residing in this home. In the year 2017, the said NGO (Cheshire Home Society) abandoned the Cheshire Home and inmates living therein. Thereafter, the inmates have continued to stay in this building.”

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