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MEC steps in at old age home

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The staff at Resthaven had not been paid their last salary due to the fact that the facility’s subsidy from the department had not been paid

INTERVENING: Department of Social Development MEC Gift van Staden, and HOD for the Department of Social Development, Hendrina Samson, paid a visit to the Resthaven Old Age Home yesterday to address the current situation at the home. Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Social Development has stepped in to intervene at Resthaven Old Age Home in Kimberley, with MEC Gift van Staden and the HOD, Hendrina Samson, calling an urgent meeting with the facility’s management and board members yesterday.

Shocking claims about conditions at the old age home came to light this week after caregivers embarked on protest action and a go-slow following the non-payment of their salaries.

The provincial Department of Social Development confirmed that the staff at Resthaven had not been paid their last salary due to the fact that the facility’s subsidy from the department had not been paid.

“The subsidy is late because there is outstanding documentation that has not been submitted. Legislation prescribes that for an organisation to be funded it must be compliant. The department has been in consultation with management of the facility to speed up the process of the payment,” department spokesperson Moss Tyuthuza said.

The protesting caregivers revealed details about the apparently shocking conditions at Resthaven, including allegations that elderly residents were being neglected.

“The old people are suffering and being neglected but no one can say where the money, meant for their care, is going. There are no heaters, clothing or alarm systems and the residents are washed with leftover pieces of used soap collected from local hotels. They have to wait for someone to die before they can get that person’s old clothes and completely depend on donations,” the caregivers claimed.

They also said that there was no transport available to take residents to clinics or to hospital and that those suffering with diabetes did not receive proper food and care.

However, during a meeting called by Van Staden and Samson, management and board members pointed fingers at the caregivers, stating that their grievances were “not valid” or a true reflection of the situation.

“The protesting staff members are disgruntled, as they have charges against them, with hearings scheduled for next week. The crux of the matter is that some staff members are unruly and have no respect for rules, discipline and order. The staff always gets paid on time but they know there is always an issue with April payments. But this is not only about pay, they are the problem here,” Van Staden was informed after he enquired why the caregivers were protesting.

The facility’s acting manager, Linda Beukes, went as far as to say that the caregivers were a “danger to elderly residents” and called on them to be compassionate caregivers, solely focused on the issue of caring for the residents.

Beukes also reassured Van Staden that all residents at Resthaven were cared for, washed and fed.

However, Samson indicated that she had received correspondence from concerned family members of residents at Resthaven, who had raised concerns about theft and a lack of care at the facility.

Samson also said that Resthaven was identified as one of the two most “critical” old age homes in the Northern Cape during assessments of facilities by the department, adding that costing estimates had been undertaken to revamp/rebuild the facility in order to bring it in line with standards.

A point that came to the fore was the fact that while Resthaven was classified as an old age home, most of the residents were in fact frail care patients who were not able to receive proper care as the facility has no sick bay.

Van Staden said that there is a need to reassess the services provided and to also involve the Department of Health with regard to specialist services that are needed.

Van Staden highlighted the fact that any upgrade at the facility needed to be done in line with the needs of residents and the community as a whole, and said that the reclassification of the facility (from an old age home to a frail care centre) should be discussed at provincial government level.

Both the MEC and HOD also called on the Resthaven board to make sure that it complied and handed in the required documentation needed for the payments of subsidies timeously and fully completed, in order to prevent a similar situation arising again in April next year.

“As a department, we are managing the money of government. There are set rules and conditions attached and we remain accountable. We can’t turn a blind eye if there is non-compliance with these conditions.

“This non-compliance only causes the suffering of our end beneficiaries (our vulnerable people), the ones whose interests are the most important. We must look at planning to prevent the same situation transpiring next year,” Van Staden concluded.