“Milestone” for Langa old age home
Sizamile Foundation signs lease on City property
The Sizamile Old Age Home has signed a lease on its City-owned property in Langa. Now the home hopes to register with the Western Cape Department of Social Development and get access to funding.
The home, which holds 36 residents, was managed by Neighbourhood Old Age Homes (Noah) until 2009. The Langa Development Forum then took over the management of the home, but, says Forum volunteer Leticia Vaphi, the government couldn’t help because the home was not registered. It could not be registered because the City owned the land.
On 9 May, the Sizamile Old Age Home Development Foundation signed a ten-year lease on the land for the purpose of an old age home.
“As part of our lease process, the City’s Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department vetted the organisation,” said Alderman Ian Neilson, mayoral committee member for finance. “They have confirmed that this is a registered Non-Profit Organisation that complies with all requirements.”
But according to the Department of Social Development, the home is not in compliance with standards required for an old age home under the Older Persons Act, preventing it from receiving funding from Social Development.
Now that the lease has been signed, said Alderman JP Smith, a proportional representative councillor for Langa, Sizamile could move to be recognised as an independent care facility, and benefit from Social Development support and visits from social workers.
But Social Development said the home would still have to comply with the Older Persons Act and the NPO Act. Vaphi said they intended to sit down with the Minister of Social Development to discuss renovating the place.
The doors are old and coming off their hinges, toilets leak under aged flooring and paint chips from the walls. “We need to renovate the place,” Vaphi said. “Things here are not working well.”
Residents get a bed, a blanket and meals. One shower and toilet are shared between six people. Each resident receives a state pension of R1,350 a month, from which R450 is collected to pay for groceries and the salaries of cooks and other workers.
“We want the department to subsidise the food and the workers,” Vaphi said. “And we must have a social worker here.”
Sihle Ngobese, spokesperson for the Western Cape Department of Social Development, said he was unaware of a meeting request with Minister Albert Fritz.
“We are still concerned about the safety of the older persons and this needs improvement,” Ngobese said. “Frail older persons should not be at this facility since it is not compliant with norms and standards.”
In 2013, Social Development approached the elderly residents in an effort to move them to Gugulethu Old Age Home, a registered site. Only one resident agreed.
Smith said he had also opposed relocation of residents.
“The residents did not want this, and we opposed the suggestion and convinced Minister Fritz and Social Development to pursue a strategy that would allow the facility to continue.”
Social Development will conduct another site visit this month to “see if the older persons are still being taken care of and if they need any psycho-social support, and to provide that then,” Ngobese said.
For Smith, the latest news for Sizamile is an important step in the right direction.
“The lease and recognition by the Department of Social Development are major milestones which are cause for celebration for the residents of Sizamile in their attempt at controlling their own fate,” he said.
Vaphi said the home had received support from the community, and the City paid for electricity and water.
“Sometimes people in the community come with food or volunteer to help paint the walls or clean the garden,” she said.
“Social Development Director Suzette Little has come here with wheelchairs and other supplies, and JP Smith stops by every couple of months.”
Overall, Vaphi said she’d been pleased with the response she’d received from the authorities.
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