At Villa Voortman (Gent, Belgium), an extraordinary care initiative, they are called visitors, not patients. They come and go, as they please. There are minimum house rules: no drugs, no verbal or physical violence. Respect, patience and understanding are the most important medications.
The personal situation of the visitors is quite precarious. They have psychological difficulties and they have an addiction. This excludes them from the regular care network: they are psychologically too disrupted to ground in addiction care, and too addicted to find a place in existing psychiatric care. The label ‘double diagnosis‘ refers to a clinical rather unruly phenomenon. For most of them, the course that eventually led to Villa Voortman is extremely bumpy: poverty, homelessness, regular collisions with the court. ‘Worrysome care avoiders’, they are sometimes called. They know what exclusion means.
It is a strange fact, a paradox, that the most problematic patients are being increasingly deprived of help in a society that has been investing strongly in the socialization of care and in lowering the threshold to it.
Villa Voortman wants to offer an answer to that remarkable state of affairs. In the first place by treating the visitors as people with their own story, a past, a future, wishes and dreams. Everyone in Villa Voortman – supervisors, volunteers and visitors – is committed to a profound respect for human dignity.
Photographed on Ilford PAN F Plus 50 120, using a Pentax 67ii camera.