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Updated 14 October 2015

'Rose Parents' take care of mental health patients

The 'Rose Parent Project' involves people and families from the surrounding communities in fostering mental patients from the Lentegeur hospital in Mitchells Plain.

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Against the background of World Mental Health Day, that takes place every year in October, we asked one of the women involved with the Rose Parent Project a few questions. The Rose Parent Project is a community-based foster care system for institutionalised psychiatric and intellectually disabled patients from the Lentegeur Hospital in Mitchells Plain. 

Read: 5 mental health tips

We asked Maria Adams the following questions:  

1. Tell me about your involvement with the Rose Parent Project

I worked for a lady in my younger years who was a Rose Parent. During that time I had a dream where I was in a hospital room, dressed in white like a nurse.

When I woke up, I realised that my calling was to take care of individuals, especially those who needed it most. It became clear to me that the Rose Parent Project would enable me to do so.

I made my way to Lentegeur Hospital and joined the Rose Parent project; that was more than 30 years ago and I am still very active. I started off with 7 patients, all males, whom I called my sons. All of them have moved on from my care, except for two, who are still with me. Another one has restored his relationship with his family, but we are still in contact.

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I have 4 children of my own, two boys and two girls. Sadly one of my daughters passed away while giving birth. I decided to raise my grandson.

He is now 16 and lives with me. He grew up surrounded by the Rose patients and has developed a great love for them and sees them as his family.

2. Why did you decide to get involved?

I realised that my creator had bigger plans for me. I, like anyone else, was put on the earth to make a difference and the Rose Parent project allows me to do that.

3. How many mentally ill clients are you taking care of?

Currently I have 4 patients in my care, all males. Their ages range from 50 to 70.

4. How long have you been accommodating patients?

I have been a Rose Parent for more than 30 years, and no patient has ever returned to the Lentegeur Hospital.  

5. Is it a role of support that you play for the patient?

Although we are often similar in age, I am a mother to the patients in my care. I bath them and wash and iron their clothes. I take them to church and feed them, like any other mother.

Read: Mental health: it's time to talk

6. What has your experience been with those you have taken in? Can you share any specific memories?

I have learned the true meaning of love. I have also learned what love feels like when you take care of someone with a mental illness, it is uniquely special. I sometimes wonder about where their families are, and I ask the Lord to give me strength and preserve me so I can take care of them, until my end.

I also always pray that the Lord provide for us and the other Rose Parents, and he has never failed. 

How to become a responsible Rose Parent

Individuals interested in becoming Rose Parents complete an application form. The completed application form is reviewed by the social worker at Lentegeur Hospital, and upon approval of the application, a social worker will conduct a home screening to assess the home conditions and meet with the family who applied.

The process entails that patients are placed with families, and not just one person, so whoever lives in the home will be part of the assessment. 

The social worker also screens the environment in the community to assess any possible risks, so that they can know which patient would be the best to match for the family, should their application be approved. 

Read: Mental illness costs 'overwhelming' 

Once a family’s application has been approved, the social worker will maintain contact with the family.

Once the social worker has identified a patient whom they believe to be suitable for the family and adapt well to the environment, the social worker arranges a first visit at the hospital, where the family is able to meet the patient. If successful, the social worker then arranges a day visit to the home of the family.

Both visits are done under the supervision of the social work team at Lentegeur Hospital. Should both visits be successful and both the patient and family be comfortable with each other, the patient is discharged into the care of the identified Rose Parent.

Rose Parents receive no reimbursement for the work they do. The project receives no funding or financial assistance. The patients receive a disability grant, which in many cases they manage.

Their Rose Parent will act as a curator and provide advice to the patients on how to wisely spend their money, as any "parent" would to any child. The social work department of Lentegeur Hospital has a close relationship with each Rose Parent and regularly interacts with them to ensure that both parent and patient are still happy with the arrangement.  

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Image supplied 

 
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