Home for aged in legal battle to stay open

2010-07-01 00:00

A HOME for the aged and chronically ill in Kranskop is fighting a legal battle in the high court against the Social Development Department, following a decision taken in April to close the facility.

An interim interdict, which was extended yesterday to July 25, is currently in place to prevent the facility’s closure pending the outcome of a review of the decision.

The department’s action is alleged to have been based on grounds that there is a lack of nursing care, lack of or “grossly inadequate” food for the residents, and that the facility is “unhygienic”.

These allegations, “strenuously denied” in court papers filed on behalf of the Masikane Christian Care Centre, which is registered to accommodate 50 people, are contained in a document notifying the centre of the decision taken to withraw its certificate of registration.

In an earlier letter the department noted that the facility did not have the services of a professional nurse or staff nurse; that there was “very limited nursing care” when the majority of the elderly residents are frail or disabled; that medicine cabinets were not locked or appropriately administered; that the environment was “dirty”; the ablution facilities were inadequate for the number of residents and not in working order; and the menu was not followed; that the groceries were insufficient for the needs of residents.

The centre has obtained an interim interdict against the national minister and KZN MEC for Social Development, which prevents the closure of the establishment or removal of its occupants pending the finalisation of a review of the departments decision to close it down.

In his affidavit, Masikane executive committee chairperson Mbongeni Simelane said, prior to the decision taken by the department, the centre received no other notice of any intention to cancel or amend its certificate of registration.

The centre received communication of the decision on April 26.

He said officials of the KZN Social Development department visited the centre’s facilities between August last year and March this year. During this period, the department noted “concerns” regarding some aspects and felt that the facility should be upgraded. A “facility development plan” was devised in September and October last year to deal with these matters within specified time frames.

“The applicant [Masikane] complied with most of the actions that had to be taken prior to or on March 31, 2010,” said Simelane.

He said those aspects not complied with were due to delays caused by the involvement of third parties, and are still being dealt with.

Simelane said the residents in the home do not want to be moved, and many of their families are also “extremely unhappy” with the department’s intention to move their relatives.

He said that, on April 30, employees of the department removed a Mrs Mthembu from the home and “simply dropped her off at the home of her relatives”.

The family was not adequately equipped nor able to care for her and they instructed the centre to fetch her. She is now back there.

The review of the decision to close the centre will be based on a number of legal grounds.

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