never again

1 Christine Nxumalo her sister Virginia Machpelah

Suzen Phoshoko & her late nephew Terence

Long-term Care

Marion Conway’s mother has schizophrenia and was always in a psychiatric ward or hospital. Her grandmother took care of Marion when she was growing up. Marion knows the pain of not having her mom live a normal life at home. “I wish I had a normal mother,” she says. “My mother is 55 years old and cannot live alone with a caregiver full-time. I wish there was a cure for schizophrenia. I wish I could rely on her like other mothers… and take her to places without her feeling like people are against her.”

When Suzen Phoshoko’s sister passed on, Suzen and her husband took care of Terence her sister’s child. He was part of the family. She was told Terrence was diagnosed with epilepsy which had been controlled by medication. But things got worse.

“We loved him and wanted to care for him. But he needed full-time looking after and monitoring. We were not able to provide that,” she says. So the doctors and hospital referred Terence to Life Esidimeni Randfontein for long- term, in-patient care. There they had doctors and nurses who could look after him day and night.

“They cared for him well. We missed Sizwe but visited him often,” Suzen says.

Doctors must explain

When a patient is diagnosed with a mental illness, the doctor needs to explain to the family, what the illness is and the recommended treatment options. Some people, who have chronic or severe mental illness require long-term treatment and sometimes even 24 hour specialised care. In-patient treatment facilities provide patients with access to a team of mental health professionals which include doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, physiotherapists and nurses. Treatment in these facilities also includes medication and skills development.

Patients who are sent for long-term treatment or care have been referred by a team of mental health professionals or other state authorities. Their families love them but cannot provide the care, treatment and protection they need. Many times, it is not an option for the families to continue caring for their loved ones.