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Foster home care for the mentally ill : a study of the needs of recidivist patients at the provincial mental hospital, Essondale, B.C., 1959. Goodwin, Harold G.


Today much emphasis is placed on the rehabilitation of the mentally ill. This study undertakes a survey of the values of foster home care as a therapeutic resource in the rehabilitation of such patients. The programs presently in operation in Maryland, U.S.A. and Ontario have been examined to determine their effectiveness in meeting needs evinced by recidivist patients at the Provincial Mental Hospital, Essondale, B.C. A sample group of twenty-one patients was obtained by taking all recidivist patients returning to the hospital from probation between July 1, 1959 and December 31, 1959, who had been active with the social service department during the previous admission. Patients who met these criteria were assessed primarily through the use of rating scales based on information contained in the files. An examination of the needs and resources of these patients indicated that the average patient was unmarried, returning for his fourth admission, without family resources, and limited in social, vocational and educational skills. Previous to this readmission one out of every two had become the client of public welfare agencies, drawing social assistance. The study suggests that patients' needs may be adequately met through a foster care program which provides emotional support, thus helping to stabilize and aid the patient in his adjustment to the community. The use of this system is also indicated for the care of chronic patients whose symptoms of illness are controlled, yet who are unable to accept full responsibility for their own care. The program could also be adapted to provide care for the geriatric patients who today swell the population of mental hospitals. Considering the program under three headings: general policy, required facilities and type of patients, methods of implementing foster home care in the community are indicated. Research would be of value in developing methods of selecting patients who would derive optimum benefit from the program, and in assessing the progress made in the new setting. Foster home care, which has as its goal the placing, of patient's in family settings in the community, is in line with the current emphasis on decentralization of large mental institutions, and, as such, provides a suitable therapeutic resource in the rehabilitation of the mentally ill.

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