We met Mrs. B in 2019 on the street where she had been living already for several years. She had developed her little habits in her neigbourhood and, for instance, often visited the supermarket around the corner to freshen up and use the facilities.
She then disappeared for some time to re-emerge in 2020 in the subway station in a different area. That’s where we met her several times until we could include her in 2021 in intensive follow-up.
She made herself at home in the subway station with a mattress, blankets, many suitcases, and all sorts of personal stuff. She had become part of the furniture, so to say.
She knew everybody: the station’s shop keepers, travelers, transport staff, etc. And like she did in her previous neighbourhood, she developed her daily routine.
The course of her life was rather chaotic and difficult to trace. She might well have lived on the street for 18 years… We knew nothing about her family – a subject she always avoided.
Contacts with her were often complicated because she shut down, said very little and was probably fed up with having to repeat the same things over and over to social workers who visited her.
We managed nevertheless to create a bond and have a good time together. She liked the cleaning tissues we brought her and used them to freshen up. And food-wise, she had clear preferences.
She appreciated the make-up and new clothes we gave her. She liked to look good, something we used to improve her hygiene and strengthen her self-confidence.
She also liked comic books, even if eye problems made it momentarily impossible to read what we brought her.
No doubt about it: Mrs. B has lots of talents! And we never stopped reminding her.
Unfortunately, something went wrong in the bond we had created with patience and perseverance. Her mental health problems took over again and she became suspicious. Our contacts became shorter and shorter, and it became impossible to make progress together.
We therefore decided to put her under observation because everybody got worried about her situation. But before we could complete the appropriate procedures, a citizen called, warning us that Mrs. B’s was rapidly going downhill.
It took two visits of an ambulance to make her accept, finally, to be taken to hospital. And we used that hospital stay to do everything to avoid her returning to the street. After that, a retirement home welcomed her. We quickly organised a visit and thanks to the cooperation of a supporting network, matters could be settled soon. Mrs. B visited the place; she liked it and found that it covered her needs. A lot of administrative work had then to be done, but it was worth it. Ultimately, she could move in rather quickly.
Today, she is settled there, found her balance in her own rhythm, and takes time to rest and recuperate.
We visit her regularly to ensure that everything is alright. The circle of acquaintances she built up on the street is also permanently present: citizens and shop keepers come to visit her. Fantastic! She also participates in cooking classes, which she enjoys very much.
It was quite an adventure!
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(*) We do our utmost to respect the privacy of our patients and our professional secrecy. However, we want to testify to how they must survive and how we are working together to reintegrate them. As a result, the names of places and people are deliberately omitted or changed and real-life situations are placed in a different context. There is no direct link between the photos and the stories above.