THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The staff-to-inmate ratio at Govt Asha Bhavan for Women, a rescue home at Poojappura in the city for destitute women who are mentally ill, is highly imbalanced. For 83 inmates, there is only one staff nurse. Even though the Social Security Mission has allocated one more nurse, the two work in different shifts. Practically, the number of nurses is just one at a time.
As it is overcrowded, new inmates are allowed in only when they carry a letter signed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, and a government doctor has attested to their mental status.
Because of these conditions, the police prefer to take women found on the road to private mental rehabilitation centres.
“There have been several instances this year when we chose Karunasai in Poojappura, Dale View in Vattappara and Santhwanam in Shangumugham over Asha Bhavan. Since the private institutions provide better service and have better facilities, the government should recognise their efforts and also acknowledge it,” said Vattiyoorkavu Sub-Inspector Prakash.
In Asha Bhavan for Women, there are two dormitories and no solitary cells. If a bickering erupts in the dormitory, it will spread like fire and to control the ensuing madness, there is just one nurse and two caregivers, both of whom were appointed by the Social Security Mission.
The facility, run by the Social Justice Department, has no caregiver appointed from the Department.
The inmates are confined to their dormitories most of the day. They enjoy a brief spell of freedom in the morning with the only woman guard keeping a watch on them. She is also the one to keep a check on the occasional problem of inmates escaping from the Asha Bhavan. There were two women guards earlier, but one got a promotion and the government is yet to fill this vacancy. The institution has requested for a counsellor.
A doctor from the Government Mental Hospital in Peroorkada visits the facility four times a month. However, to do a round of checkup for all the 83 inmates in a day can be taxing.
There are 25 inmates from other states. The staff at Asha Bhavan has trouble communicating with them. “We really wish the government would allocate a social worker vacancy for the institution as it is a must for those appointed as a social worker to know various languages,” a staff member said.
As an alternative, the institution has requested that women from other states be sent to government-run rescue homes in their native states.