Attempt to remove elderly residents fails

EFFORTS to remove elderly residents from the troubled Elonwabeni Old Age Home in Kokstad failed this past Monday.

The Department of Social Development (DSD) meanwhile confirmed that they would be continuing with engagements on the matter.

The Fever was informed by DSD that elderly people and their relatives refused to leave the institution as they were told to do so, despite transport having been made available by DSD to move residents to other facilities.

The decision to remove the elderly residents was announced three weeks ago at a meeting with the MEC of Social Development Weziwe Thusi and Kokstad stakeholders.

The home has faced numerous challenges since the beginning of the year with instability and financial mismanagement just some of the problems highlighted previously.

DSD spokeswoman Ncumisa Ndelu said challenges that faced the home have affected the well-being of some elderly people and the department would not sit back while their lives were being compromised. Ndelu added that it would be illegal for the department to forcefully move elderly people to other facilities.

On Monday morning, community members and relatives of the elderly residents converged at the home to witness the removal of residents to three facilities in Durban. There was also heavy police presence at the home.

After a number of deliberations between DSD officials and community members, including the elderly, a decision not to remove them was made.

Ndelu said to remove elderly people to other facilities was just a temporarily measure and that the department must deal decisively with all the problems faced by the institution. She said many allegations have been made since January and the department has established that investigations are incomplete.

“The department is worried about the well-being of the residents. Some are on medication and they need to eat before taking their medication. When they are denied food, they will get sick,” Ndelu said.

In an attempt to find solutions to the home’s issues, a meeting was held in May which saw the election of new board members after the term of the current board expired however the meeting was not officially recognised.

In July, the meeting which was meant to elect new board members was cancelled because it was not properly advertised.

The community believes that the home deserves new management to bring it back to its former glory.

Democratic Alliance KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson for Social Development Sharon Hoosen said the older persons act does not allow the MEC to close the facility. She visited the old age home on Tuesday afternoon to interact with residents and staff and to walk around the facility.

“We discovered that the staff has not been paid since last Friday. The facility has broken chairs, lacks proper medical equipment, and half of their resources were not working, including the toilets,” said Hoosen. She said social workers were requested to interact with older person and make sure that the facility complies to regulations.

“Social workers have failed to do their job because none of the notices have been made about what is going on in the institution. We need urgent intervention from the MEC and the KZN Premier for the facility to run smoothly,” she said.

She said they will issue a letter to KZN Premier Willies Mchunu for intervention and to the Human Rights Commission to investigate the violation of older person’s rights.