There have been big improvements at Serendipity Old Age Home in Panorama, since it became the subject of an investigation into complaints of elder abuse more than a year ago.
The Department of Social Development reported, at a standing committee briefing last week, that the owner of the home was complying with regulations (“Elder abuse claims rock Panorama old age home,” November 12, 2014).
The committee was given an update on the status of old age homes, as well as the management guidelines for residential facilities for older persons in the Western Cape.
It heard that 687 cases of elder abuse had been reported to the department since the inception of the Older Persons Act in 2010.
Charles Jordan, the department’s chief director for social welfare, said Serendipity’s owner had demonstrated a positive attitude and had cooperated with the department to ensure the home ran properly.
Although the department does not fund Serendipity, which is a private facility, it is responsible for checking that conditions at the home are up to standard. Serendipity is home to 32 elders.
Many of the earlier complaints of abuse were made by the public.
The department launched an investigation in November 2014, and found Serendipity did not have the appropriate staff to cope with residents’ health needs.
In January last year, a full-time nurse was appointed.
Had the home failed to do this, residents would have been moved to another facility. By May 30, the home had had to provide proof of evidence-based care to the seniors.
The investigation also found a lack of appropriate policy and procedure documents to direct the health team and staff, and there was no safety programme for residents and staff.
These issues have since been remedied.
Serendipity’s owner, Sharon Roberts, said she was pleased the investigation was over and that it had found no evidence of elder abuse at the home.
She encouraged similar facilities to work with the department.
“If they had assisted me from the beginning, things would have been great from the outset,” said Ms Roberts.
She said Serendipity was running smoothly since the appointment of the registered sister during the day, and the enrolled nursing assistants at night.
“We definitely did suffer a bad financial blow with all the negative publicity, but we are very happy that we are on our feet again.”
The department has allocated more than R190 million during the current financial year for residential facilities, service centres, social service organisations, independent living and assisted living.