Mental Health Facilities

My brother is a resident at Gordonia, Bertrams, and has been there for probably as long as Gordonia has been there – he has been in various institutions in the past 40 years. He has schizophrenia, he is a healthy individual and turned 69 years old July 2014.

I was advised on the 15th October 2014, by the social worker at Gordonia, that he needs to be placed in an old age home / facility asap. He may not stay there any more because of his age. I understand and accept that. 

The social worker did take him to see Masego Home in Krugersdorp on the 20th October 2014. I met her there and viewed the home. I was not happy with the conditions there at all. They do not have cupboards for their personal belongings - he has a chair that he has had for the past 25 years - where does he keep it? Both homes for the men - every available room is filled to the brim with beds. There is no kitchen. There is one bathroom for all the residents. There were women as well as men there - there is a separate home for the women. 

They eat their meals outdoors in a small concrete courtyard with tables and chairs under a smallish "carport" and in the open. This is where they remain until dinner, after which they go inside at 7pm. My question is, to do what? sit and look at the walls or each other? There is a outside room where there is a TV, I never went in there and don't know if they are allowed out again? Did not seem the case.

Questions that arise are what happens when it rains, where do they eat? If they feel like a cup of coffee - there is no place they can make it, there is no kitchen. They do not encourage cell phones - this is their only form of communication with the outside world / family. This is like a jail. This needs to be looked into.

When entering the one home, there was a woman lying under a car in the shade on the concrete? and another screaming - this disturbed my brother. I would actually not like to see any elderly person living in these conditions.

When entering another on the porch/verandah/stoep (very small entrance) they were busy with the medications - out in the open?

Is this what I want for my brother? No, absolutely not. He deserves a little dignity in his old age. He does not deserve to be placed in a place where he will give up on life. He was visibly upset when he saw what the conditions were where they were planning on transferring him to. 

I live on the West Rand. There are 4 government facilities as he receives a govt grant - Avondrus in Maraisburg, Donavan McDonald in Florida, Tonardo Park in Georginia and Klein Helderkruin in Wilro Park. I have been to the Housing Department at the Civic Centre in Florida to obtain the application forms. There is a 3-4 year waiting period for these facilities, and that is if he is approved with his illness.

As I have stated before, we do not have that time. Gordonia have agreed to January - max - February 2015.

My question is what is government doing to accommodate the mentally ill in their old age. There is no facility that wants them as they need to be supervised in most cases especially with their medication. Once they reach retirement age, the rehab where they have spent most of their life, are now rejecting them, and they have nowhere to go. 

Sadly, the mentally handicapped people, esp the aged in our society are pushed aside as not important or a problem.

Most of them come from an era where there was no pension funds or medical aids to care for them when they reach this age, so they are then left destitute. They receive a grant that is not enough to supply their needs. 

Where do we go from here to help them?

lois.bruce@gmail.com

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