A number of families with relatives receiving care at the Safe Haven Transitional Centre have virtually abandoned these patients.
The facility, which is formerly known Sandy Lane Centre, assists chronically homeless individuals to develop skills and resources for independent living over a two-year period.
But, according to Director Jacqueline Donovan, in some cases, family members have left patients at the centre for more than 15 years.
In an exclusive interview with BVI News yesterday, Donovan appealed to these families to do more towards caring for their troubled relatives who are housed at the facility.
“They [family members] come to the centre and they say that they want their family member to come to the centre and they will offer support. But after we get them in, family forget about us,” Donovan said.
The Director said it is costly to provide the one-on-one personal care that some patients require daily.
And while she was unable to put a specific price on patient care, she said a small donation from families who can afford to would be helpful.
“We are not asking them to be part of their family’s life if they don’t want to, but at least contribute towards the centre financially – a little $25 or $50 so we can get personal things for them,” Donovan said.
She added: “Some of these families are very wealthy and we have reached out to some of them and we are still waiting to get assistance. And a lot of people give up on their families and say they are tired of it, or the government should do it, or the individuals are big enough to look after themselves. It is unfair – government cannot do everything.”
However, she said the centre empathizes with the few families who genuinely cannot afford to contribute.
Families shutting their doors
Donovan also mentioned another troubling issue.
She said family members of patients who are able to transition back into society are unwilling to house these patients in their homes.
“Some of their families have homes but they don’t want them at their homes with them. Even though we tell them we will guide them for a period. And now that Irma came, everybody making an excuse that they don’t have a house roof or the house got destroyed.”
“My staff enjoy what they do but sometimes it can be frustrating for them,” Donovan admitted.
“We want the community and family members to become more involved.”
Government’s intervention needed
The Director of Safe Haven Transitional Centre is now calling on government to intervene.
“I think something definitely needs to be put in place for individuals who are able to contribute. The government needs to put their foot down and do background checks, and those who are able to contribute should do so.”
She further called on government to consider developing a long-term facility for patients.
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