NATIONAL NEWS - The Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) has recorded an increase in COVID-19 recoveries and a decline in the number of infections across old age homes in the province.
The province, which was once the epicentre of the novel Coronavirus, said it would continue to monitor infection rates by monitoring strict health and safety protocols.
The Shadow Minister of the DSD for the Western Cape, Sharna Fernandez, has thanked all the elderly people who are currently residing at the funded and unfunded facilities, and their families for the role that they have played in preventing the further spread of the virus.
“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,” she said.
There are 300 nursing homes, 117 of which are funded by the provincial DSD.
According to the department, 1 430 pensioners recovered from COVID-19, while 100 were reported to still be infected by the virus as of 31 August.
“This shows an increase of 72 recoveries and a decrease of eight infections compared to last week,” the provincial department said.
The province’s oldest resident, who currently lives at the Kensington Old Age Home, Dinah Fourie, 102, also beat COVID-19 and is fully recovered after 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,” Fernandez said.
The provincial department has reiterated its commitment to ensuring that the rights and dignity of older citizens 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,” said Fernandez.
The department has also developed mechanisms for monitoring of services 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, mindful of the various economic circumstances that impact negatively on the quality of life and well-being of older persons,” the department said.
The provincial DSD has budgeted R 250 million towards services for the elderly.
“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.”
An additional R 1.7 million has been made available for old age homes for the management of the pandemic.
The department has also distributed 150 000 masks, 5 000 shield masks, 10 000 bars of soap and 18 000 all-purpose cleaner bottles and 50 litres of sanitisers per home across the province.
They also deployed volunteers to deep clean with a focus on homes in vulnerable communities and hotspot areas.
Fernandez is once again encouraging the public to frequently wash their hands and wear masks when leaving their homes.
“It is also crucial to clean all surfaces around you – whether 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,” Fernandez said.