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SA Organisations

Who can blame them?

MICHAEL SEIFF writes that when he walks around Sandringham Gardens & Our Parents Home he is delighted to see so many happy and contented residents.
by MICHAEL SIEFF | Oct 13, 2013

We’ve all heard stories of elderly people being put into retirement facilities against their will. There are few situations in life as miserable - even when it’s for their own protection.   

Of course, not everyone feels that way and as I walk around Sandringham Gardens and Our Parents Home I am delighted to see so many happy residents enjoying each other’s company, content in the knowledge that they are on secure premises with medical assistance on hand and all their meals and entertainment assured.

But many older people desperately want to remain within the familiar, comfortable surroundings of their homes for as long as they possibly can. And who can blame them? What stands in their way is invariably the lack of social interaction and physical care.

That situation is what’s motivating the Chev’s efforts to drive a home-based care project that will enable people to live independently by providing the at-home support and help they need. 

There’s real strength in unity and we can achieve much by consolidating the wonderful work of community organisations like the UJW and their Meals on Wheels project; Hatzolah, who are often called out to tend to sick or injured people; JWBS who offer ongoing support to lonely people; and our own social workers and financial assistance and nursing teams who make regular house-calls.

Like so many worthy efforts, this one began with a think tank initiated by the Chev almost a year ago, at which all these role-players pledged their support to gather statistics and share information.

The result is a pilot study that has identified 104 people (out of 150 assessed) in 89 households who could benefit immediately from the project, the youngest being 60 and the oldest 101.      

Three categories of clients are recognised: those who are isolated and in need only of additional social interaction and stimulation; others who also require minimal assistance with activities like bathing or dressing; and finally, those in need of regular care-worker assistance.     

Volunteer care companions are being recruited right now (let us know if you’re interested) and training will begin soon. They will provide companionship and practical assistance like changing light bulbs, sourcing workmen and taking people shopping, to medical appointments or on outings.   Care-workers will provide help to those more physically dependent and will be qualified and registered with the Department of Social Development.

Through this communal infrastructure, clients will be monitored to ensure their safety and we will be alerted to symptoms of deteriorating health. As the project evolves, its services will grow to incorporate more clients, more care companions and carers, more frequent home visits and greater communication efficiencies. In the spaces between those visits, help will be only a phone call away.

  • Michael Seiff's paid-for column originally appeared in The SA Jewish Report on 11 October 2013

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