News / South Africa

Virginia Keppler
2 minute read
29 Sep 2017
6:30 am

Elderly slip ‘rescue notes’ to visitors

Virginia Keppler

They have complained that the old age home was dirty and the food menu should be changed.

AFP / Sebastien Bozon
A nurse holds the hands of a person suffering from Alzheimer's -- a disease that affects some 44 million people around the world

Scared and helpless, elderly people at the Lodewyk Spies Old Age Home in Eersterust, Pretoria, had to slip hand-written notes into the hands of visitors, asking for help with discrimination and filth.

“Please come and help us as residents. We are in big, big trouble,” one note read.

In a second note, they said the staff were discriminating against them, talking to them as if they had no rights. They said they want a social worker to speak to. The residents said the place was dirty and the food menu must be changed. They asked that their identities be kept secret as they fear intimidation and victimisation.

They complained about their pocket money and said management take R160 from them. The old age home hosts senior citizens from various areas around Pretoria.

When The Citizen visited the home with a family member of one of the residents, old people were sitting around bored, with nothing to keep them busy.

“It is literally as if they are only waiting for their hour of death,” a family member remarked.

Only one family member, Lavinia La Vita, whose father is a resident at the home, was willing to speak on the record.

She wrote several letters of complaint to the department of social development, but to no avail. She asked that the department explain to her what her father’s pocket money was being used for.

This is over and above the fact that most of his pension goes to the home to pay for his boarding and other necessities.

“When I visited my father, I noticed the lack of maintenance of the property; the lack of hygiene in the bathroom and toilets; there were no activities, entertainment or motivational activities for the people and the environment was very depressing.

“Some people are sitting inside and others stayed in their rooms all day. It is as if the elderly are waiting to die,” La Vita said. She sent the department pictures of the conditions.

The department has acknowledged it had received her letter, she said. The home was clean when The Citizen visited this week. The department said it would call an urgent board meeting to deal with the situation. –