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Level of satisfaction and social functioning of boarding home residents in Kamloops, British Columbia Osborne, Dorothy Margaret

Abstract

The general trend toward community care of the mentally ill is a relatively recent development in the treatment and rehabilitation of this segment of society. The purpose of this study was to examine a group of boarding home residents who are psychiatrically handicapped in order to discover whether they were satisfied with their situation in the community and whether they had achieved an appropriate level of social functioning. Another question addressed was whether the cost of maintaining the patients in the community is less than that of institutional care. The scope of the study was restricted to individuals residing in mental health boarding homes in the Kamloops, British Columbia area. The majority of these had been patients at the Tranquille School, facility for the retarded. However, included in the 69 subjects interviewed were those with other psychiatric handicaps. One questionnaire was administered to residents, boarding home operators, employers, and workshop staff. A subjective response was elicited from the boarders regarding their satisfaction with their situation; in addition to the subjective-response, "satisfaction" was measured quantitatively with regard to social activities, that is, contacts with friends and family as well as attendance at community activities. Other items on the questionnaire related to social functioning of the subjects and included adjustment in the home and at work, and interpersonal relationships. Ability to remain in the community was considered to be an important indicator of social functioning, as well as moving on to independent living. Fifty-eight of the sixty-nine (84.06%) responded that they were satisfied with their situation in the community. These represented a substantial number of the moderately retarded. Contact with relatives and friends were found to be infrequent, and most subjects were dissatisfied with this. A high percentage of the respondents (88.4%) attended community activities at least once a week, and 30.43% at least twice a week or more often. These factors may have contributed to the boarders' satisfaction with community living. Social functioning was felt to be closely connected to some form of community employment. A total of 68.12% of subjects were away from home in some work related activity, a fairly high indicator of social functioning. Amount of supervision needed in such activities as eating, sleeping, toilet, dress, and spending money was considered in the study as being a measure of social functioning. With regard to the rate of returning to institution, the .5% per month compared favorably to the Province wide average of less than 1% per month. 6.8% of the boarding residents were found to have moved on to independent living in 1973, as compared with the provincial average of 11%. The possibly high percentage of retarded subjects in boarding homes in the Kamloops area as compared with other districts in the Province may have influenced both of these findings. A tentative conclusion was reached that the cost of maintaining patients in the community is considerably less than institutional care, but a more comprehensive study would seem to be indicated.

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