by Harold McGluwa – DA Northern Cape Provincial Chairperson & Chief Whip of the Provincial Caucus
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Date: 11 May 2018
The DA is deeply concerned about the poor quality of care of our senior citizens in provincial old age homes by the Department of Social Development.
Last year already, seven old age homes in the Northern Cape were identified as being non-compliant due to infrastructural challenges. On top of this, two of the homes, namely Resthaven in Kimberley and Amandelhof in Williston, formed part of the very worst homes in the country.
While the department has indicated that they 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.
Media reports have exposed the plight of residents of Resthaven, who are clearly neglected. Residents, who are completely dependent on the state, have to wash with leftover pieces of soap collected from local hotels, they wait for other residents to die before they can get their clothes and they are not provided with any form of transport to take them to clinics or hospital. They also live in unsafe conditions.
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.
The Resthaven situation came to light following an ongoing go-slow by caregivers who have 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 is of the view that the non-payment of stipends is actually a symptom of a much bigger problem, which ultimately stems from the department’s failure to fairly fund NPO’s, in turn compromising 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.
The department must not just tackle administrative issues in silos, at the cost of service delivery. They need to take into consideration the wellbeing of employees who are dependent on their monthly stipends an residents who are dependent on consistent quality care.
The department needs to more proactively, and not reactively, support NPO’s to ensure that documents are compiled and submitted timeously. It also needs to relook its entire funding model.
This is because the core root of the problem is that the department inadequately funds NPO’s, as a result compromising on the management of NPO’s 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.
The DA will embark on oversight 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. For this to happen, Total Change under a DA government is required, so that the social welfare of our poorest and most vulnerable people can become a reality.
DA Northern Cape Provincial Chairperson & Chief Whip of the Provincial Caucus
082 440 1779
Shelley De Witt
082 847 1387