‘Berlin Wall’ comes down

2013-04-09 00:00

AFTER over 100 years of separation, the wall between the Emma Barter and Victoria Memorial homes for the elderly in Pietermaritzburg will be demolished.

Following a merger of the two residential care homes, the final physical barrier between the adjacent houses will be broken down today to form the Emma Barter Victoria Home.

Residents have dubbed the palisade concrete fence separating the two homes, which resulted in the development of separate cultures, the “Berlin Wall”.

Emma Barter, which was established in 1883, provided care for independent women.

Twenty-one years later, Victoria Memorial opened next door, initially as an almshouse for men.

After nearly a century of separation, the homes decided to join forces to share costs and assets to benefit their residents and open up space for new ones.

The manager of the Emma Barter Victoria Home, Noelle Bunge, said that the merger talks, which have been going on for the past year, were finally put into effect four months ago.

Said Henry Spencer, who consults and works with the executive board of the home: “It made economical and logistical sense to merge the two homes.”

Bunge said the merger was done for financial reasons to make the rates more affordable for the residents. Previously both homes accommodated 75 residents.

The changes have allowed 10 more rooms to be added and the frail care section of Victoria House will cater for residents from both homes.

Kitchen and laundry facilities will be joined, further reducing costs. All the residents will have access to a luxury minibus to take them on outings and shopping trips.

The merger has not disrupted the lives of the residents.

Resident Liz Nielsen (76) said she had not noticed any changes, while resident Celia Naidoo (85) said it was too soon to tell if their lives would be affected.

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