Families urged to make contact with elders

Seniors at the Douglas Murray Home for the Aged received face masks but are appealing for more help.

Old age homes are urging families to stay in touch with their loved ones during the lockdown.

Many homes went on lockdown before the official one started, to protect their vulnerable residents. The Douglas Murray Home for the Aged in Cafda was one of them. It closed its doors two weeks before the lockdown started on Friday March 27.

According to the home’s CEO, Fred Daniels, some of their residents are feeling abandoned.

“We cancelled movement of people in and out of the facility, mainly visitors or people who came for non essential services and staff were requested to cancel leave to assist the seniors. They have risen to the occasion and have totally committed to be at the home and care for the seniors.”

Despite the staff’s efforts, the seniors were still missing their families, he said.

“They think their families have abandoned them, so we are encouraging families to call them and to do video calls so that the seniors can see their faces and be reassured during this difficult time.”

Staff had to be diligent, he said, because many of the seniors were senile and didn’t grasp fully the importance of physical distancing.

The elderly are allowed outside but only in certain areas as the home’s walls are very close to outside community.

“This puts the seniors at a huge risk because people in the community are ill-disciplined, not adhering to the lockdown regulations, so we have created a quad for them to sit in the sun and get some fresh air,” Mr Daniels said.

The community and businesses have donated masks and other safety essentials to the seniors and staff, but Mr Daniels is appealing for more support.

“We requested some donations from people and the broader community and businesses have been tremendously supportive, and we thank them for that. We cannot operate without donations, and the lockdown has cut off a lot of our suppliers, and donors have closed down. We appeal to the community and businesses to please donate dried foods, masks, sanitisers, gloves and other things to assist, please.”

The home, he said, had been stressing the importance of hygiene and had set up an isolation room and quarters for staff to sleep over.

The Cape Peninsula Organisation for the Aged (CPOA), which runs various retirement homes and villages, including the Lotus River Place in Buck Road, has taken steps to protect staff and the elderly in its care.

CPOA spokeswoman Sandi Gelderboom said all the organisation’s retirement facilities had been under full lockdown with no new admissions or visitors, and staff had been asked to sleep in.

“All hygienic measures have been implemented, all staff have their temperature checked when they report to work.”

Home managers helped residents shop for food and other essentials, and all staff had surgical masks, face shields and gloves. N95 masks were in stock for care-centre staff.

“We have prepared protocols on how to deal with suspected cases or indeed positive Covid-19 cases.”

There were special programmes to keep residents entertained, she said.

“We are in constant contact with residents, families and staff and update them on a regular basis about new developments and the actions CPOA are taking.”

The CPOA has also appealed for donations for its homes across the Cape Flats.

“We had significant unbudgeted expenses so far, and we suffer from loss of income in our economic homes and care centres and we welcome any donations,” Ms Gelderboom said.

Douglas Murray Home for the Aged can be contacted on 021 712 2146 or email fundraising@
douglasmurray.co.za