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Old age home one of ‘worst-off’

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An assessment of all old age homes in the Northern Cape has identified that a total of seven are non-compliant, while two - including Resthaven in Kimberley - are among the worst-off in the country.

UPSET: Caregivers at Resthaven old age home embarked on a go-slow as they had not received their salaries.

AN ASSESSMENT of all old age homes in the Northern Cape has identified that a total of seven are non-compliant, while two – including Resthaven in Kimberley – are among the worst-off in the country.

This is according to information provided in the Estimates of Provincial Revenue and Expenditure Report for 2018.

According to the report, the provincial Department of Social Development, in partnership with the national department, undertook an assessment of all old age homes in the Province to determine the state of compliance to the Older Person’s Act.

“Seven old age homes were identified as non-compliant due to infrastructure challenges. Of the seven, two formed part of the worst-off homes in the country and consequently the department, in partnership with these old age homes, engaged the National Lotteries Commission to source funding for these two old age homes. Approval was granted by the National Lotteries Commission and therefore a process is currently under way to refurbish these two old age homes,” the report states.

According to the DA’s provincial chairperson, Harold McGluwa, the department identified the two old age homes as Resthaven in Kimberley and Amendelhof in Williston.

“While the department has indicated that it successfully acquired funding from the National Lotteries Commission to refurbish the two most dire facilities, they have to date failed to adequately address the mushrooming crisis being experienced in our old age homes,” McGluwa added.

He pointed out that recent reports had exposed the plight of the residents of Resthaven, who are completely dependent on the state.

“It is heartbreaking that our elderly citizens, many of whom devoted their lives to raising their families and serving diligently in various sectors of society, are now tossed aside and left to suffer at the mercy of the state and the NPOs that the government funds to care for them.”

McGluwa added that the Resthaven situation had come to light following an ongoing go-slow by caregivers who had not yet been paid their stipends.

“This, in turn, is due to the fact that the facility’s subsidy has not been paid by the department as a result of non-compliance issues.”

The DA indicated that the non-payment of stipends was actually a symptom of a much bigger problem, which, it said, ultimately stemmed from the department’s failure to fairly fund NPOs, which in turn compromised the level of care received.

“This week, during a legislature portfolio committee meeting, MEC Gift Van Staden conceded that the department has not managed to move beyond dealing with compliance issues, which he implied is to the detriment to our most vulnerable people,” McGluwa said.

“The department must not just tackle administrative issues in silos, at the cost of service delivery. They need to take into consideration the well-being of employees who are dependent on their monthly stipends and residents who are dependent on consistent quality care.”

The DA called on the department to be more proactive and support NPOs to ensure that documents are compiled and submitted timeously. “It also needs to re-look at its entire funding model.”

According to McGluwa, the core root of the problem is that the department “inadequately funds NPOs, as a result compromising on the management of NPOs and ultimately on the quality of care that they deliver”.

“It cannot be that an old age home, which performs services on behalf of the department, continues to have the same bed capacity year after year and must deliver the same duties year after year, but it receives a yo-yoing and irregularly paid subsidy year after year.”

McGluwa said the DA would embark on oversight visits of old age homes across the Province in order to further assess the level of care being received by elderly people.

“Our elderly citizens deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”

Spokesperson for the Department of Social Development, Gamiem Abrahams, stated that the multidisciplinary task team that was set up by MEC Van Staden would visit Resthaven today to provide feedback of their findings and recommendations, which would also be provided to McGluwa and all other affected parties and persons.

Abrahams indicated that the task team would also assist at all other care facilities in resolving problematic areas and provide support.

“Over the years the old age home has evolved into a frail care facility and one that provides care to people left destitute by their families. MEC Van Staden also made good on his promise to meet with the staff and an agreement was reached that they will suspend the go-slow and that the department will do everything possible and in compliance with legislation to ensure that the subsidy is paid by May 18.”

He explained that the delay in funding was due to non-compliance and non-submission of documents and all institutions were advised to admit proposals as early as 2017.

“Many of the sensationalist concerns raised were unfounded. The soap are donations received from various hotels and the same that guests use. Clothing and other consumables is provided with the grants received. Family is encouraged to provide the necessities needed by residents to make their lives more comfortable. The department can confirm that all residents receive the required medical treatment and all prescribed medication is provided. The residents are taken proper care of despite the now suspended go-slow.”

Abrahams stated that the matter relating to Resthaven as well as other institutions of care has been reported to the portfolio committee.

“The department created partnerships with possible funders, including Lotto, to supplement the annual subsidy it pays to care facilities. The funds raised to supplement the departmental funding will be used to revamp old age homes, with priority being given to Resthaven and Amandelhof.”

He added that the department was unable to deny the public the right to register an NPO.

“This is done for free and in line with the NPO Act. Thus any member of the public who wishes to register an NPO and is compliant and qualifies, is eligible to register. Thus the mushrooming of NPOs will always be there because the public sees and economic value in this sector.”

Abrahams stated that the transfer of funding had to be made in line with the Public Finance Management Act, which encouraged adherence to the accounting principles.

“In this case we will be in contradiction of the law if we transfer funding to NPOs that are not compliant.

“NPOs/NGOs are independent entities. Although all efforts are made to support NPOs, they are a persona on their own, with a board and a constitution. The department cannot be a referee and a player at the same time, thus we cannot prepare documents for NPOs – rather we are able to make a suitable environment for their operation and support them accordingly.”

He added that the limited resources that are made available to the department by National and Provincial Treasury, is shared between older persons, children, youth, women, the disabled and in most cases addressing food security.