Frail care facilities are in the firing line due to impending enforcement of the ambitious Older Persons Act of 2006.
Many smaller and private frail care facilities will have to spend millions of Rands to get “up to standard” or risk being closed down.
Closure would inevitably leave thousands of old people in the province without a home.
“We have 10 inhabitants over the age of 60 living with us,” says Eric Miles Cheshire Home for the Disabled manager, Alet Bosman.
“Two of them have been living here since 1976. It is their home. Now we are beginning to think we might have to send them away because of this Act, which is perhaps a little over ambitious for a country such as ours.”
Some of these regulations are theoretically sound, but according to Bosman, are impractical.
It will take a minimum of six months to complete a course, during which the carer may not work at an old age home.
Most carers, according to Bosman, have never done a course at HWSETA, yet they have been treating older people for decades.
Another regulation which draws Bosman’s ire is that each older person needs a comprehensive and personalised care record, which takes an huge amount of time to keep updated.
“One can also now never restrain an older person without a doctor’s note. Restraining an older person who is in an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s Disease is sometimes the only way to temporarily control the person. Now we need a doctor’s note. Why?” asks Bosman.
She and numerous anonymous owners of facilities in Milnerton and Table View have many questions such as these.
“This law has been around since 2006. Why is it such a priority for the Department to enforce it almost eight years after it first saw the light?”
Western Cape social development MEC Albert Fritz said although the Act was finalized in 2006, it was only promulgated for implementation on 1 April 2010 in the Government Gazette. Provinces then had to await the National Department of Social Development providing the Delegations of Powers before provincial departments could begin implementing the Act.
He said the provincial department was now required to enforce the legislation.
Fitz adds that if an Old Age Home does not adhere to regulations and is forced to close, then inhabitants need to be placed in alternative accommodation.
“This process will be done in consultation with me or my delegated authority,” he said.
Bosman and her peers at other Homes insist there has been no public participation process before the Act was promulgated, but Fritz insists this is not the case.
“Public hearings took place whilst the Act was in draft format. This was done by the Western Cape Standing Committee on Social Welfare Services as well as National Parliament. Also the draft Act was gazetted for public comment and input, before the normal process followed which applied to all legislation before being promulgated.”
Fritz also apparently ran a media campaign regarding registration in 2012.
But Bosman says: “Many families of the elderly people willingly put their parent or parents into a Home, knowing exactly what to expect. They are happy with the care provided there. Were these families’ opinions ever considered?”
He also asserts that the law will be applied “across the board”, but the Department will provide funding for its subsidised Old Age Homes in order to comply with norms and standards.
Within a few weeks health specialist, local authorities and the department’s social workers will be auditing and assessing hundreds of homes in the city.
Tygerburger spoke to a few old age home managers along the western seaboard and quite a few of them were aggrieved and despondent.
Ulrike Thaele from Table View’s K-Sera Frail Care Home, says their audit is in November, so they will close their doors in October.
For 23 years nobody cared about us. We had to work with nothing. Now, when we have no energy left we are being pushed further under water. We served the community and helped so many older people, of whom 99% suffer from either Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Now we have to stop because of this Act. What makes a good carer? A certificate? No, quality of service! Our challenges are enormous. We are currently a home for 26 old people, some of them living here for just R4 500 – R5 000 a month. Now they will have to move to a Home where they will have to pay about R13 000 a month.”
She said smaller Homes were entirely excluded by the Act.
***DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED IN TYGERBURGER, A CAPE TOWN BASED MEDIA24 COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER. IT MAY NOT BE DUPLICATED WITHOUT ACCREDITING THE SOURCE – TYGERBURGER, MEDIA24.***

 

 

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