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Post-discharge needs of mental patients without family resources : a study of a group of women who were formerly long-term patients at Provincial Mental Hospital, B.C., 1957-1958 Kern, George Herman


This study surveys the personal circumstances and situations upon discharge, of young women who have been in the Provincial Mental Hospital a number of years, and have no home to which to return* It was found that nine out of ten patients without usable family resources have problems of such a nature on discharge as to require the services of a social worker. Their problems include obtaining work or maintenance to meet their basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. They also need personal assistance and encouragement in obtaining employment, making new friends and acquaintances, and participating in recreational activities. The method used was to compile pertinent information from the hospital files of patients aged thirty-five and under, who left on "probationary discharge to self" during a given one-year period (actually, July 1, 1957 "to June 50, 1958). Eighteen patients were found to meet this criteria, whose cases could be studied extensively. The findings suggest that the average patient without family resources has come from a home in which there has been much stress, and is limited in educational, vocational, and social skills (e.g., lack of friends and acquaintances, relationships with the opposite sex, etc.). Social workers, both at the hospital and in welfare agencies throughout British Columbia, were active in helping approximately 90 percent of these patients meet their needs. Such help included making arrangements for finances, job finding, accommodation finding, transportation, and providing emotional support. Only 56 percent of these patients were able to make an adjustment that did not result in re-admission to the hospital: which suggests that follow-up, and after-care programs should be strengthened to include more extensive use of hostels (such as the Vista in Vancouver), and of family care programs. The possibility of smaller local centres for psychiatric care is another idea that merits consideration, to avoid prolonged separation from the community in which the patient is to return.

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