UPDATE: Increase in COVID-19 recoveries across Old Age Homes continue
In recognising the vulnerability of older persons during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Social Development continues to monitor the infection rates at homes, whilst also working to ensure that the dignity and rights of older persons are upheld.
The Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) continues to monitor strict health and safety protocols across old age homes in the Province, to prevent further spread of the virus. Whilst these protocols have required immense sacrifices from older persons themselves and their families, we are continuing to see a steady increase in recoveries and a decline in the number of infections across funded and unfunded facilities.
Minister Fernandez said, “Whilst I welcome the steady increase in COVID-19 recoveries across old age homes, I would like to thank all the older persons who are currently residing at these facilities and their families for the role that they have played in our fight to prevent the further spread of the virus.”
Minister Fernandez added, “I am cognisant of the challenges this pandemic has posed for all those people who live and work at old age homes. One particular challenge is that many older persons have not been able to visit or have family members visit them for months. We are currently in consultation with National Department of Social Development, to explore ways that this can be changed, whilst ensuring that a second wave of the virus does not occur within these facilities.”
Minister Fernandez continued, “I also wish to reiterate that we are committed to ensuring that the rights and dignity of older persons at all old age homes across the province are protected. If family members or staff working at these facilities believe there are cases of ill-treatment, we urge you to report it to our Department so that the matter can be followed-up.”
In the Western Cape, there is a total of 300 old age homes of which, 117 are funded by the provincial Department of Social Development.
As of the 31 August 2020, a total 1430 older persons recovered from COVID-19, while 100 older persons were reported to still be infected by the virus.
This shows an increase of 72 recoveries and a decrease of 8 infections when compared to last week.
Minister Fernandez said, “In support of the ongoing work being completed at old-age homes across the province, we wish to share the story of 102-year-old, Dinah Fourie. Ma Fourie, the oldest resident who currently resides at the Kensington Old Age Home has fully recovered from Covid-19 after initially testing positive. This is just one of the many success stories of hope and a story that highlights that when we all join hands to fight towards a common goal – much can be achieved.”
Please see attached photo of Dinah Fourie and see below for the link to the video (102 years of age).
DSD is guided by the Older Persons Act, which ensures that the Department implements its statutory obligations by ensuring that the facilities and programmes that are available for Older Persons comply with the statute and relevant norms and standards. The Department partners with the NPO sector, other government departments, tertiary institutions and local authorities in providing access to quality services to vulnerable Older Persons.
In promotion of the rights and dignity of older persons, the Department has also developed mechanisms for monitoring of services Older Persons in residential facilities and community-based centres.
Additional services being offered by the Department include the protection of the rights of Older Persons to be free from elder abuse and mindful of the various economic circumstances that impact negatively on the quality of life and well-being of Older Persons.
For the 2020/21 financial year, R 250 million has been budgeted towards services for Older persons. Over and above this support, the department has also reprioritised funding to ensure that various services and facilities (both funded and unfunded) are equipped with the necessary resources, to prevent further spread of the COVID-19.
In response to the challenges that COVID-19 poses for old persons, the department has offered the following support to old age homes during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Protocols have been put in place between the provincial DSD and the Department of Health with regards to referrals of COVID-19 outbreaks at old age homes (NOTE: The Health department do screening and testing on-site at home with staff and residence - see link for more information Guidelines for Long Term Care Facilities and Covid19).
- An additional R 1.7 million has been made available for old age homes for the management of COVID-19, over and above existing allocations.
- 150 000 masks, 5000 shield masks, 10 000 bars of soap and 18 000 Domestos all-purpose cleaner and 50 liters of sanitizers per Home have been distributed to old funded old age homes across the province.
- Additional relief staff are provided where and when needed.
- Specialised training for carers.
- Facilitated the deployment of volunteers to deep-clean old age homes – with a focus on homes in vulnerable communities and hotspot areas.
“I would like to encourage the public to frequently wash their hands, and to wear your masks correctly when leaving home. It is also crucial to clean all surfaces around you - whether it be at home or work. Let’s do everything we can to ensure that we stop the further spread of the virus and protect those who are older and live with high-risk comorbidities,” concluded Minister Fernandez.
We urge the public to access credible information on https://www.westerncape.gov.za/department-of-health/coronavirus.
For more information about our other services, please refer to the Western Cape Department’s Website below: