'She was literally skin and bone': Family's nursing home shock


When Ilani Erasmus went to visit her 92-year-old grandmother in the old age home two weeks ago, she couldn’t believe her eyes.

“I was so shocked when I saw her. I couldn’t believe it was my grandmother,” Ilanie (35) says.

Her grandmother, Poenkie Matthyssen, was painfully thin and dehydrated. She also had a bedsore on her foot that had festered right down to the bone because it hadn’t been taken care of.

Poenkie has been a resident in the Ons Gryse Jeug old age home in Sasolburg in the Free State for the past two years. The home has been in the news before because of the way residents had been treated. The TV programme Carte Blanche also reported on conditions at the home.

Her granddaughter wants to expose the home's treatment of 92-year-old. PHOTO: Supplied PHOTO: Supplied

“My grandmother was skin and bones. We immediately took her to a doctor who was shocked to see the state she was in.”

Ilanie confronted the home’s nurses about the issue. “They told me everyone knows my grandmother refuses to eat or drink and so they didn’t bother to try and feed her. They just left her. They also said they had been cleaning her bedsores every day,” Ilanie told YOU.

“It’s all lies," Ilanie says. "When I gave my grandmother water and food she drank and ate a little bit. And there’s no way they took care of her bedsore because then it wouldn’t have been in that condition.”

Ilanie says the nurses at the old age home were rude to her but because she was afraid they’d take it out on Poenkie, she kept quiet and just tried to get her grandmother to the hospital as quickly as possible.

PHOTO: Supplied PHOTO: Supplied

Onse Gryse Jeug home declined to comment on the events. “A thorough investigation is being organised to look into these events as soon as possible,” was all De Wet Claassens, director of the home, was willing to say.

Meanwhile, Poenkie has been in hospital since 26 September.

“My grandmother is doing much better. She’s still in hospital and is improving,” Ilanie says. “The doctors say she has pneumonia because of the dehydration and they’re treating her for that.”

Ilanie says she won’t let her grandmother go back to Onse Gryse Jeug. The family have already arranged alternative accommodation for her.

gryse jeug PHOTO: Google Maps

“I want to help the other old people who still live there by exposing the conditions there – nobody must be made to suffer like that. It’s happened before at that particular old age home and I’m certain my grandmother won’t be the last case. We’re opening a case against the home after a lawyer told us it [the neglect] amounts to attempted murder,” Ilanie says.

  • Onse Gryse Jeug in Sasolburg is a programme run by the charity organisation Engo and falls under their directorate of aged care. The investigation will be conducted by Engo’s director of aged care, who’s a registered nurse.

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