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Pain of age

by Christelle Wiese
02 Jul 2008
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

THE family of an elderly woman who was hospitalised yesterday have levelled allegations of neglect against the Rondebosch retirement home she resides in. The home, though, maintains its staff are highly qualified and says it will never condone any form of neglect of its residents


Gordon Green resident Madge Morkel (91) was admitted to hospital yesterday (30 June), suffering from internal bleeding.

This is the fourth time she has been admitted to hospital since she was moved, less than a year go, to the Gordon Green Annexe of the Fairmead Court retirement home in Rondebosch.

At least two other concerned families are awaiting a meeting with the Cape Peninsula Organisation for the Aged (CPOA), which manages Fairmead Court and 13 other frail care centres.

CPOA chief executive officer Billy Rauch says the organisation strives to satisfy all their residents - of which there are around 1 000 in total - but it "seems to have disappointed" some. He adds that the organisation will never condone any form of poor care or service. Rauch's statement follows allegations of neglect published in a newspaper on Sunday.

Some families have claimed that residents suffer injuries at the home, are left without supervision for unacceptable periods of time, that medication is administered incorrectly, and that unhygienic conditions have persisted despite several complaints.

Her daughter Jeanne Welsch says, "I am extremely disappointed in the unsatisfactory response we received from the CPOA, particularly in view of the assurances Billy Rauch gave me...that he took the matter very seriously and would get to the bottom of it."

However, Rauch says that although the nursing managers and other staff sometimes work under trying circumstances, the staff are highly qualified. He adds that the organisation has even installed closed circuit television cameras to monitor the staff at all times.

Welsch and her sister Mariechen Schimmel form one of three groups who told the press that they fear for the safety of their parents at the home.

"We are relieved that our mother is in hospital. At least she is safe there and being cared for by qualified, caring nursing staff. While she is in hospital we don't have to lie awake at night wondering what is happening to her," says Welsch. The other families are more reluctant to speak out, but have supplied People's Post with reports of communications with Rauch and photographs of alleged injuries.

Pat Lindgren, the director of Action on Elder Abuse South Africa, says that people who report the abuse or even suspected abuse of an elderly person are not held liable when the notification is made in good faith, adding that those who fail to do so are guilty of a legal offence.

She says abuse or abuse-related injuries must be reported immediately to the director general of the Department of Social Development, or to a police officer - this is according to the Aged Persons Amendment Act 100 of 1998.

According to Welsch, Lindgren has promised to call a meeting with all concerned parties, and Rauch confirms that the organisation is discussing the complaints with residents and relatives. Lindgren urges the public to make use of the tollfree Halt Elder Abuse Line (HEAL) on 0800 00 30 81 to report any suspected neglect.

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