IMH's new family room for caregivers to unwind in

The Institute of Mental Health's new family room has a kitchen, dining area and lounge, and caregivers of young patients can take a break there. There are books and a TV, and Wi-Fi access as well.
The Institute of Mental Health's new family room has a kitchen, dining area and lounge, and caregivers of young patients can take a break there. There are books and a TV, and Wi-Fi access as well.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Families and caregivers of young patients at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) now have a place to take a break and unwind.

The 59 sq m room, which was officially opened yesterday, comes with a fully-stocked kitchen, dining area and lounge, and there is a TV, books and Wi-Fi access.

Dr Ong Say How, chief and senior consultant at IMH's Department of Developmental Psychiatry, said: "We wanted to look after parents' physical and emotional needs... They have to stay up all night to look after their kids, which can be very demanding."

IMH's Sunrise Wing cares for those aged six to 18. Dr Ong said the IMH does not have many facilities that can be used as waiting areas, and consultations, or one-to-one sessions between the patient and therapist, can last over an hour.

The new facility, called the Ronald McDonald Family Room, cost $270,000 to build and can hold up to 24 people.

It started operating on Dec 18 and 59 families have registered in its biometric system database, which gives them access on weekdays from 9am to 7pm.

The new facility is opened jointly by the IMH and Ronald McDonald House Charities Singapore.

The Sunrise Wing sees patients with conditions ranging from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to more serious mental disorders like schizophrenia and severe depression, said Dr Ong.

It sees about 5,000 outpatient visits and 400 inpatient admissions each year.

Its ward houses 20 of the hospital's 2,000 beds and usually has an occupancy rate of at least 70 per cent. The average in-patient stay is between 10 and 14 days.

The charity had also set up a similar relaxation facility at the National University Hospital in 2016.

It also partnered IMH in 2016 to set up the Centre for Life and Academic Skills at the Sunrise Wing. Classrooms were set up, with specialist teachers and education psychologists helping patients with their studies.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2018, with the headline 'IMH's new family room for caregivers to unwind in'. Print Edition | Subscribe