When Ms. V speaks to you her entire persona is serious. However, her every word is what can easily be understood as “dry humor”. She has a gift. You cannot be in her presence without having an extremely serious and hilariously funny conversation. You will be the only one laughing. There are so many days I feel she is much better than coffee.
It was not always like this. Ms. V came to us from the couches of friends. Here for a week, over there for two weeks and across the way for another week or so. Family was out of the picture. They were alive and well but they did not want her, they could no longer cope. The daughter of a school principal and mother
of two daughters who were well accomplished, Ms. V was diagnosed with schizophrenia and severe depression.
One of the lessons learnt over the past two years at Hyacinth’s Place is that the desperate need for housing and support services for the mentally ill and the homeless has given creative license to those whose job it is to find housing and services for this population. Our assessment and screening process combined with experienced clinical interviewers were no match for the agents who prepared our candidates for their “opportunity to get into affordable housing with support services – all brand new – you will have your own bathroom and turn your own key.”
At the end of the interview we were laughing and Ms. V was in.
The records were there, all of it. We reviewed it, we were satisfied with our support and that of her Community Service Agency, it was going to be OK. We had the infrastructure to cope and she deserved a second chance.
After two weeks, the chaos began. It was on all four floors of the building. It was during the day and late at night. We quickly narrowed it down to Ms. V. A brief conversation confirmed that she no longer “needed her medication”, she had her own place and did not need any more pills. The delusions and hallucinations were so vibrant to her there was no arguing or denying that what she saw and heard was real.
We called on our support and sadly, if she did not “threaten to kill herself or anyone else” there was nothing to be done. “She has a right to refuse her medication.” We later found out Ms. V knew the system well. Everyone came out and asked the same questions and she gave the same answers. They left and the chaos continued.
Because of a need for anonymity, how we were able to almost single-handedly circumvent the system and got the medical and psychiatric attention Ms. V desperately needed cannot be shared. However, after developing a standard regime for her, two years later Ms. V is one of Hyacinth’s best residents. She is employed and works 20 hours each week. She is an active participant in all of the HP programs and a valued resident among her peers. The last report from her vocational team was excellent. She is considered “necessary” at her job and “a pleasure to work with”. Not only is she beloved by the staff and residents here at HP but she is one of our very classy ladies.