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19 March 2011, 06:00
Families in Hertfordshire are being asked to think about letting people with mental health problems stay with them.
The idea's being put forward by the Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust - after staff there saw a similar project in Lille in France. They say it's the first time anything like this has been done in the UK.
The Host Family scheme's designed so patients (who are called Guests) can go through their treatment and recovery in a more natural environment than a hospital.
Eric Pwamang - who's the Trust's Service Manager - told Heart being admitted can be a stressful time and sometimes have negative results:
"When people go in to hospital, sometimes they lose certain skills that they already have - things like cooking, being able to hold a conversation with strangers, talking to people on the bus. And going in a homely situation, all these things will still be going on."
Guests would stay with their family for about six weeks, in which time they would be visited by specialist mental health workers to help with their condition.
It's hoped the Host Family - which would be paid a weekly allowance of £600 - would help thier guest with daily activities like shopping and cooking. Families wouldn't be expected to offer any treatment of therapy.
Mr Pwamang said:
"Any of us could be on the other side and we would want people to look at us and to treat us and to work with us as if we were part of the family. And that's the ethos that we're trying to bring. We want to work with people in a family atmosphere where people are looked after, people are cared for, people are supported."
An information session is being held at The Maltings in St Albans on Saturday 19th March between 10am and 4pm for people who are interested to find out more. You can also get information by calling 07768 131 413 or by e mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Nic Kamera, the Team Manager, said:
"We are really looking forward to visiting St Albans and telling as many people as possible about the benefits of being a host family. We believe there are people in the St Albans area who would make great hosts, and could provide a caring environment for a guest for a few weeks. I would encourage people who are interested to pop along, have a chat with the team and pick up a leaflet."