In commemoration of the annual International Day of Older Persons, the South African Association of Homes for the Aged (Saaha) held a peaceful march outside Parliament in the CBD on Tuesday 1 October.
Sahaa represents caregivers working with elderly people. The march highlighted issues faced by caregivers. Participants wanted answers from authorities.
Liana Grobler, the national president of Saaha, says they embarked on a march because all other attempts to engage with the national department of social development (DSD) have been unsuccessful.
They handed over a memorandum detailing their concerns and proposals and pleaded with the authorities to take their grievances seriously.
It was received by Victor Ngaleka, the procedural advisor of the National Assembly.
Key grievances included the fact that caregivers in South Africa are not registered with the DSD and do not have a regulated governing body. For these reasons, the memorandum stated, their occupation is not taken seriously.
Grobler says caregivers play a crucial role in society, from caring for vulnerable children to socio-challenged families and elderly people.
She says the demand for caregivers in society has greatly increased over the years, “making the circumstances they work under even more complicated”.
Grobler says caregivers are abused and are often do not get recognition as being part of the staff. They also don’t receive career guidance or proper training. As a result, recipients of the services could end up being neglected.
“We pledge to work progressively to honour and implement and then to regulate the occupation to ensure increased levels of care,” says Grobler.
She says, since 2018, Saaha has tried to partner with the national department on the caregivers’ concerns, but to no avail.
She says the march was a way to say every person has the right to better care and the caregivers delivering the care should be recognised for their contribution and have guidelines and receive a proper education.
She says there is minimal support for caregivers at this stage. However, to the caregivers, she says “someone is finally standing up and recognising the importance of the service they deliver”.
Grobler says Saaha is currently developing a database. She encourages caregivers to complete the required form (application for a caregiver).
She says this will speed up registration with the DSD once legislation is implemented.
Saaha is also in the process of engaging with the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations and the South African Council for Social Service Professions for acceptable recognised and standardised training for caregivers in South Africa.
Ngaleka promised Saaha that the memorandum would be delivered to the speaker who would then advise on it and hand it over to the national minister of social development, Lindiwe Zulu.
At the time of going to print spokesperson for the department Lumka Oliphant had not responded to People’s Post.