It is probably the first time that families of people with mental disabilities have kick-started a vigorous campaign against the Chandigarh Administration for having a proper group home — something that has been pointed out to the President as well.
Ever since the UT Administration declared that it will make the Cheshire home a group home by dislocating the disabled, the decision hasn’t gone down well with the families of those mentally disabled people seeking a group home.
On a daily basis, letters are being written to not only the administration but also to high-ups in Delhi about the move.
In a letter written to the President on Monday, a father of a mentally challenged child said, “I am a father of an adult with mental disability. Being the only caregiver to an adult with mental illness, I know the suffering and anguish of such adults and their family members. I am in my 60s, and I am the only caregiver to my son and my old mother. Both my mother and I keep worrying about my son’s future when the two of us are not alive anymore.”
Parents have met the Chandigarh Administrator regarding their request for assisted living facilities for persons with mental disabilities.
“In July 2019, on UT Adviser’s request, we submitted a list of over 70 signatures (individuals requiring assisted living). This includes men and women, both paying and non-paying (EWS) categories. Sadly, the UT Administration never bothered to follow up or do an independent ‘needs assessment’ till date. Several individuals need assisted living facilities immediately. Fortunately, Indira Holiday Home, Chandigarh is vacant and ideally suited for sheltered accommodation for persons with mental disabilities,” the father said in his letter.
On the decision of Cheshire home to be made group home instead of the demanded Indira Holiday Home, the parents have said that it is not required.
UT is planning to make Indira Holiday Home an old-age home.
On this, one of the parents said, “Chandigarh Administration is already running two old-age homes, and currently building a third old age home in Sector 34, Chandigarh. Several NGOs and religious organisations too are running old-age homes in and around Chandigarh, but there is not even a single assisted living facility for persons with mental illness/ disability.”
“On behalf of all the worried caregivers, I would request you to intervene on our behalf and direct the UT Chandigarh Administration to declare ‘Indira Holiday Home, Chandigarh’ as sheltered accommodation for persons with mental disabilities. This would be a huge relief to all of us,” it was said.
A letter by another parent said that dislocating physically disabled from Cheshire home with limited space to habilitate mentally challenged is no solution, since the need is far greater than what Cheshire Homes can offer.
“Reflecting on a smaller scale, all families are expected to create an environment at home that takes care of the young, old, infirm and the vulnerable, while helping everyone learn, earn and reach their potential. Using the same parameters, a city is also a family on a much larger scale with the responsibility of taking care of all its residents resting in the hands of the Administrator. Consequently, this worthy office must ensure parity of facilities and opportunities for all its residents, regardless of their origin, abilities or socio-economic status,” it was requested.
The parents have been suggesting that Indira Holiday Home would be best suited for people with mental disabilities.
What was UT’s decision
The UT had decided to house a group home for mentally challenged persons in this building and also to set up a Half-Way Home in DART Building in Sector 32, Chandigarh.
“It was seen that 17 people, mostly handicapped have encroached upon this property, which is basically a resumed property belonging to the Administration. The inmates are mostly persons, who were earlier working in pre-paid booths of Traffic Police, which are now closed.
The building is a double-storeyed, constructed on a plot measuring more than 2 kanals with 6,000 ft. construction,” it was stated.
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