The care of elderly persons is an important division of services rendered by Free State Care in Action. It is important for the organisation that services keep up with the constant change of the needs of the elderly person and to ensure the quality of life regardless the care needs and support that the elderly person requires. The approach is to create a supporting environment wherein the elderly person will be respected, empowered and supported.
Free State Care in Action realised that a change of culture was needed regarding the approach of all facets of service delivery to elderly persons and started this culture change in 2009 by changing the service delivery model. Based on the principles of the Eden Alternative philosophy, Free State Care in Action together with Geratec (Gerontological research, training, education, catering) undertook the Eden path to transform services to a more person-centred care model where the opportunity is created to establish a warm, homely environment with spontaneous contact with plants, pets, children and the community.
The most important principle of Eden is that Elderly persons are allowed to make their own choices with regards to their needs within a friendly, supporting environment to combat loneliness, boredom and helplessness. (for more information about Eden – www.edenalt.co.za)
Establishing the Eden principles is a journey that requires constant training, motivation and evaluation.
On the first level services are given by Social workers to elderly persons with social problems.
Clubs and community centres is the second level of service delivery where active elderly persons are given the opportunity to live independently within the community for as long as possible. These services include, among others, the following: Opportunity to socialise, health services, transport, home assistance, meals, etc.
The third level of service delivery is the running of retirement homes where safe and affordable housing is offered to self-supporting elderly persons. The association runs 20 of these homes, where accommodation is provided.
Although provision is made for elderly persons from all economic levels, Free State Care in Action mainly provides accommodation for sub-economic elderly persons in its retirement homes.
Single-room, one-bedroom and two-bedroom flats are available.
Retirement home care, the fourth level of service delivery, is (in many cases) the last home for elderly persons, and it is therefore very important to Free State Care that its homes provide an excellent care service that will ensure optimal quality of life for all residents right up to the end. Free State Care in Action has been providing institutional care to elderly persons since 1923.
In view of the fact that mainly frail elderly persons are admitted to retirement homes nowadays, and that a large nursing corps is required to care for them, retirement home care has become a very expensive service.
Although retirement homes’ boards of control actively endeavour to keep accommodation fees as low as possible, it remains an expensive service. The involvement of the community, whether in a financial or practical sense, is therefore always welcomed.
Free State Care’s 14 homes provide care to approximately 800 elderly persons.
The Department of Social Development subsidises a few residents, but this subsidy is insufficient. In many cases, children and family members contribute to the accommodation fees of residents who are not subsidised, and the home has to cover the deficit in cases where the relatives cannot provide these funds. This has serious financial implications for homes.
Over the last few years, Free State Care in Action’s homes have developed community forums and services that are no longer focused only on residents in the home. Today, homes also provide services to elderly persons in the community, mainly in the form of supplying meals, providing information and training family members as caregivers.