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Our Institutions - Nazareth Halfway Facility

PROGRAMMES

Residents of the half-way house are drawn almost exclusively from the St. Ann 's Mental Hospital. For admittance to the half-way house facility, prospective residents must fulfill the admission criteria.

They must possess sufficient intelligence to allow for training in basic skills, should be able to function with minimal supervision, prospective residents must be symptom free and not be currently homicidal, suicidal or drug or alcohol addicted and lastly should be between the ages of 21 to 50 years.

The facility is under the care of a management committee, appointed by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and is staffed by a manager and three assistants. As the centre seeks to provide continual day and evening programmes to prepare residents for independent living, programmes place emphasis on the following: Enhancing coping skills, compliance with treatment plans and making participants employable. There are five different types of programmes or therapies conducted:

  1. Medical Programme - This involves compulsory attendance of the out-patient clinic at St. Ann 's Hospital, visits by the mental health officer and drug therapy to control medical symptoms.
  2. Group sessions - which involve substance abuse groups, therapeutic groups, diagnostic and treatment groups.
  3. Educational/Skill training programmes - these cover a wide range of social and other kinds of skills - literacy, personal hygiene, STD's (sexually transmitted diseases), family life education and consumer self-help.
  4. Social and Recreational programmes - involve a daily physical fitness routine, card games, sports, cultural shows and group outings.
  5. Occupational therapy - Residents are employed and paid for work done in the various institutions owned by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul .

RESIDENTS

To most people, mental illness remains shrouded in an aura of fear and mystery and for persons afflicted with this condition, perhaps the biggest problem lies in dealing with being labeled as "madmen". However, one finds that residents of the facility reveal a surprising "ordinariness" a depth of humanity, in spite of the tragic circumstances of their lives. This fact becomes all the more evident when one considers that many of these residents are able to explain their past with such astounding clarity.

Henry, an eleven year resident of the half-way house, says he became mentally ill some seventeen years ago. "I was living on the streets, running from place to place because I felt that people were following me." He also heard powerful, commanding voices urging him to commit anti-social acts. After brief stays at the psychiatric ward of the Port-of-Spain General Hospital and Marian House he was referred to the Nazareth House facility in 1994.

He credits much of his improvement to the staff at the half-way house, being touched especially by the care and concern that they have shown. At the present time, his "voices" have fallen silent but he is still jittery and he has to take a regular course of medication - tablets twice a day and a 2cc. injection once monthly.

Another sign of well-being is his spiritual life. A devout Catholic, he attends Mass at the Cathedral Parish each Sunday without fail. For the future he hopes to set himself up as a shoemaker - a skill he acquired many years ago.

'Al' was a sportswriter for the ' Guardian' in the 1960's. One of his favorite sports personalities was Andy Aleong, St. Mary's schoolboy who played football and cricket at the national level. Al suffered prolonged mental illness falling sick in the late 60's and was in and out of St. Ann's hospital until 1990 when was admitted to the Rehabilitation Centre at Arima. He was admitted to the Half-way House in 1993. At the centre, as part of his occupational therapy, Al sells newspapers on mornings until 10:00 a.m. For the future Al is not very ambitious. He simply hopes to return home one day.

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Cyril Ross Nursery
Nazareth House
Nazareth Halfway Facility
Archbishop Finbar Ryan Geriatric Home
Audrey Mollineau House
Home for the Aged
San Fernando
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