A family with the appropriate support
A family with the appropriate support

Psychosocial care: Catalyst for needy patients

In Ghana, it is common to find that patients receiving care in hospitals struggle to fend for themselves.

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They are deserted by family, friends, church, office colleagues, neighbours and other loved ones for reasons such as mistrust, petty conflicts and quarrels.

Others simply have no place to lay their heads after discharge from the hospitals. For some they are virtually jobless. The homeless ones especially find solace in the hospital and yearn to stay in the hospital as their place of abode. In some cases, the staff offer assistance for temporary accommodation to the cured ones as they search for permanent place of abode.

If this menace remains unresolved, it could adversely impact their living conditions, which will eventually put them in a vicious cycle of getting sick and seeking medical care, which could reduce their chances of survival.

Consequently, the nation may not reach the Sustainable Development Goal on health (SDG 3; Good health and Well-being). 

What is Psycho-Social Care?

The term ‘psychosocial’ refers to the dynamic relationship between the psychological dimension of a person and the social dimension of a person.

The psychological dimension includes the internal, emotional and thought processes, feelings and reactions, and the social dimension includes relationships, family and community network, social values and cultural practices.

‘Psychosocial support’ refers to the actions that address both psychological and social needs of individuals, families and communities. (Psychosocial interventions. A Handbook, page 25.) Psycho-Social care for patients helps them to improve on their living standards so they contribute meaning fully to society.

Some interventions include crisis counselling, acceptance and confirmation by family members, monetary and logistical support.

Matters arising

One of the core issues that arise in the quest to heighten the promotion, assessment and relief of patients with psycho social flaws is funding. Visiting various departments or units within government medical facilities, such as the Social Welfare Units, reveals the significant financial challenges they face.

Even though such facilities strive to secure funds to cater for needs of patients, the severity of the case is unknown to the public as some volunteers, non-governmental organisations and private organisations are unaware of these struggles hence do not commit funds to evade or mitigate the situation

Broken homes are a canker that is gradually eroding the fibre of society. In times past, it was common to seek support from both nuclear and extended families when illness struck.

Today, most patients find it difficult to seek comfort in the arms of relatives. When relatives are invited to visit their wards in the hospital, most of them fail to show up. This situation leaves many patients stressed and pitiful even when discharged from the hospital.

Gender disparity is another issue that begs for attention. Man has been conditioned by society to believe that he should accommodate pain in order to be considered a ‘man’. This belief has rendered some men to endure illness.

They even try to cover up their illness to avoid mockery and neglect. Again, some philanthropists prefer to support the women than the men when they visit the hospitals to assist patients.

Moreover, poverty is a real and uncomfortable situation that keeps some patients weeping uncontrollably when they are charged but do not have funds to foot their bills. Consequently, they are left to wallow in pity and pain.

Sometimes they are kept in the hospitals until their bill is paid. The infections that they may contract as they stay at the wards after treatment cannot be underestimated. Even after discharge, catering to themselves is a challenge.

Way forward

The need for holistic health care of patients cannot be underestimated. When the medical aspect of the patients is considered without steps to care to the other dimensions of health such as the psycho-social aspect, it leads to a whole cycle to degenerative health.

I wish to appeal to families, individual philanthropists, and corporate bodies to help curb the incidence of abandoned patients in medical facilities. Meanwhile, healthcare workers and social workers can create a calm and welcoming atmosphere for such patients.

The writer is an Institutional Assessment Practitioner,
Accra.

E-mail: [email protected]

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