New managing director takes the reins at Douglas Murray Home

Theodore Gabriels is the new managing director of Douglas Murray Home for the Aged.
Theodore Gabriels is the new managing director of Douglas Murray Home for the Aged.

Fred Daniels, who started as a volunteer at Douglas Murray Home for the Aged in 2012, last month stepped down from the position of chief executive officer.

When Mr Daniels handed over the reins to new managing director Theodore Gabriels last month, he recalled that in 2012, the Retreat-based facility had been facing closure.

“My brief from the board at the time was to assist the management in implementing better governance and operational structures and systems as required by law and that would drive the organisation forward towards greater efficiency and effectiveness. I had to achieve this with almost no budget and very limited human resources,” he said.

Fred Daniels retired last month.

Mr Daniels said he had planned to retire at 65 as he had been working in the formal sector since he left school at the age of 16. “I have completed my matric through distance learning and my undergraduate and post-graduate studies at UCT with a full bursary from my employer. The plan to retire in 2020 was confirmed after I suffered a major health setback in 2016 which required me to alter my lifestyle.”

Mr Daniels said one of the major milestones during his tenure was “celebrating the golden anniversary (50 years) of the home in 2019” but added that a major challenge was that while “the building is a solid structure, the facilities inside are in desperate need of a refurbishment and make-over”.

“The asbestos roof also needs to be replaced as it has become a health hazard. Most of the residents of the home come from the poorer sections of our community and so the organisation needs ongoing financial and material support in order to sustain itself,” he added.

Mr Daniels said, as CEO the “home certainly took up a lot of my time given the nature and the extent of the needs and challenges of the organisation”.

“It was indeed a labour of love for me as the place has a very special place in my heart. I will continue to visit from time-to-time and be involved albeit on a voluntary basis. However, for now I will be taking an extended break to spend more time with family and more quality time with my wife Bev, who also retired from her position as school principal at the end of 2019.”

Mr Gabriels, who stepped in to DMH in November last year, had been working at The Department of Health and Social Development when he developed an interest in facility management.

“I was serving on a few facility and governing boards and was instrumental in drafting best practices and workable systems for homes,” said Mr Gabriels.

When asked what the plans for Douglas Murray Home were, Mr Gabriels said: “My plans are to build on the current structures and foundations laid by my predecessors and to further explore and secure good partnerships with various industries, in particular infrastructure, assets (office, hospital and hospitality equipment) and information technology.”

Mr Gabriels said it was also important for him to maintain good relationships with current donors and stakeholders, “and to further expand our donor community in order to render the best of care to our residents“.

“I plan to establish a mental health facility that is licensed and approved by the department of health,” he added.

When asked what challenges he foresaw, he said: “One of the challenges that I foresee is the limited budget and resource base that was compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the ageing facility and infrastructure that will become a challenge as time progresses and the associated maintenance costs.

“I hereby extend my sincere gratitude to the community who has been providing on a continuous basis for example food parcels, vegetables, toiletries, clothing, etc.,” said Mr Gabriels.

Background

The Wynberg Society for the Aged was founded in 1961 with the specific aim of working for the welfare and upliftment of the Aged in the Retreat/Steenberg area.

The Society immediately embarked on an ambitious campaign to raise funds to build a suitable old age facility in the local community. This goal was finally realised in 1968 when funding was received from the estate of the late Douglas Murray, founder member of Murray and Stewart Construction Company, who had bequeathed some money in his will specifically for the benefit coloured seniors on the Cape Flats.

Douglas Murray Home for the Aged (DMH) was eventually established in 1969 and currently provides around-the-clock residential care for about 70 elderly and frail residents. The home draws most of its clients from the surrounding communities.

Douglas Murray Home for the Aged works closely with teh departments of Social Development and Health; as well as Retreat Community Healthcare Center, Victoria Hospital and Groote Schuur Hospital and draws most of its revenue from the board and lodging fee charged to clients and from the frail care subsidy received from the Department of Social Development. They currently care for 13 orphaned residents for whom the organisation raises funds through regular appeals to donor agencies, charitable trusts, and benevolent organisations and individuals.

To support the DMH Adopt-an-elder campaign and help cover the costs of orphans or for donations in kind. For more information contact the home’s fundraiser Megan Schilder via WhatsApp 062 573 3799 or email fundraising@gmail.com