Costs shut poor elderly out of old age homes

The homes charge between R4000 to R9000 per month for meals, extramural activities and 24-hour care.

Elderly people in Tshwane who cannot afford the high costs of frail care are “cut off” from registering at old-age homes, in which an estimated 2% of senior citizens are black.

Member of the provincial legislature and DA Gauteng spokesperson for social development Justus De Goede, and City of Tshwane’s chairperson of the Section 79 oversight committee, Thabisile Vilakazi, said this yesterday after conducting oversight visits to three old-age homes in Pretoria West.

Van Rensburg Old Age Home in Danville costs a steep R9 000 per month, while Margaretha Ackerman Old Age Home a few kilometres away charges R6 000.

The fees include three meals daily, extramural activities and 24-hour care. Louis Trichard Old Age Home, which is for independent residents, costs R4 000.

The homes receive a subsidy of R1 700 per resident from the department of social development. Families and pension grants were expected to pay the balance.

“The problem is there is a cut-off point, as you have to be able to afford it. Many people are discouraged from using the programme because they simply can’t afford it. That’s the one thing that struck us,” De Goede said.

Louis Trichard Old Age Home only has one black resident, while Van Rensburg Old Age Home has four black women. The latter has initiated an outreach project in Lotus Gardens in which food is delivered to 44 elderly people and five care workers are made available.

“I didn’t get an impression of any policy of exclusion, I think it’s purely a financial issue. It is up to the department of social development to increase its subsidy so that more people get in. That might be a solution.

“We will have to go to the department of social development and a number of departments to ask them what they can afford to get more people into facilities,” De Goede said.

Vilakazi said the city would “scrutinise” the billing criteria. As old-age homes have now moved from under the auspices of the health department to the community and social development services department, she said they would ensure “everything adds up”.

“I will come back with my committee and look into everything. We are here to serve the community and we can’t leave this.”

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