Santa Rosa man with schizophrenia shares how care home has changed his life

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News that Sonoma County supervisors agreed Wednesday to spend more than $6 million to save residential care and peer and family support services from deep budget cuts alleviates anxiety of patients and family members.

One of those people is Robert Lloyd, a 42-year-old who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his early 20s.

For nearly two years, he has been living at the male-only Hope House in Santa Rosa. It’s one of the residential care homes managed by Community Support Network that would have been hard-pressed to keep operating, if the county had enacted the planned budget cuts.

“It would be a shame if they ever closed it, because there are a lot of people dependent now and in the future that need a house like this,” Lloyd said Wednesday. “There are a lot of people that need help on the streets that come to a place like this to get to shower and food. I would be upset if I ever heard they closed it.”

Before Lloyd was accepted into Hope House, his parents Karen and Peter Lloyd watched helplessly for two decades as their son, who had been an elite swimmer in high school and had studied molecular biology, was shuffled between hospitals, jails and temporary living quarters — all while being sedated with prescription drugs.

“We were devastated when he was diagnosed and over time he lost all social skills and became a shell of himself,” Peter Lloyd said. “It has been a long struggle ever since.”

Robert Lloyd first started hearing voices days after he graduated from UC Berkeley over 20 years ago. Initially, he said the voices in his head were nonthreatening, but his mental state quickly deteriorated to daily bouts of extreme paranoia.

After his schizophrenia diagnosis, his parents said years of tumult were filled with frequent 911 calls, middle-of- the-night emergency room visits and various stints in mental health facilities across Northern California.

Since moving into Hope House, Lloyd’s mental health has dramatically improved.

“We have our son back,” Peter Lloyd said. “It’s the small things we notice, like his ability to focus on something for longer than five minutes and the fact we can sometimes hug him.”

The 24-hour care now has given Robert Lloyd an opportunity to start focusing on life outside his mental health disorder. He has his sights on going back to school.

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