DSD on funding for Residential facilities of older persons; DHS on housing special needs policy

Social Development (WCPP)

13 August 2019
Chairperson: Mr G Bosman (DA)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee received presentations from three provincial departments on topics related to social welfare for needy residents of the Western Cape.

The Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) described how it collaborated with the Department of Social Development (DSD) to agree and form policies with regards to infrastructure. Infrastructure had its challenges, one of which was the balancing of needs with the funding allocations. The availability of suitable sites was another concern, as well as problems inherent in the sites themselves, such as zoning issues.

During discussion, the Committee asked about the allocation of responsibilities, the process of inspection when it came to upholding maintenance standards, and why the process of starting new projects was such a long one.

The Department of Social Development briefed the Committee on the funding for residential facilities of elderly people in the province. The most important point raised was that the funding model needed to be reviewed because of the rate at which the population was growing -- the latest census showed that there had been a 30% growth in the number of people over the age of 85. Western Cape people had the longest life span, and due to the access to health care services, they also had the lowest mortality rate. The funding model therefore needed to be looked at in order to cater for this. Furthermore, with the increase in the population of elderly people, there was a need to allocate more funding towards home-based care, because there may be a lack of space in the old age homes. The Department of Health funded home-based care through community-based carers, but these were generic. The Department wanted specialised people to look after older persons. The model of home-based care needed to be looked at.

Members asked about the process involved in converting regular buildings into rehabilitation centres, and raised concerns regarding the lack of social workers being allocated to various areas. They also asked about the collection of information dealing with the needs and concerns elderly people.

The Department of Human Settlements informed the Committee of its housing special needs policy and its implementation plan in the province. From its perspective, there had to be a holistic approach to dealing with special needs, which included elderly people, the disabled and the other vulnerable members of society. The DHS had been inundated with requests from the Department of Health to provide accommodation for special needs persons and proper shelter for those who need dialysis so that their treatment could take place in a healthier environment. The policy had been completed in 2016, but had yet to be signed off on. Beneficiaries of this policy would need to be South African residents or people with permanent residency status. In terms of income categories, the policy was going to look at households with an income of R7 500 or less, but it had been found that victims of domestic abuse in particular may need to be assisted irrespective of what they earned, because people sometimes left homes in emergency situations, so rejecting them on the basis that they did not earn within the bracket would defeat the purpose and objectives of the policy. All people over the age of 60 and those with various disabilities would also be included, along with the homeless and destitute, victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking.

Committee questions included ways to avoid fraudulent allocations of housing, the budget implications, the scrutiny process and the selection of beneficiaries

Meeting report

Department of Transport and Public Works on infrastructure of Department of Social Development

Ms Andrea Campbell, Chief Director: General Infrastructure, Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) said the relationship with the Department of Social Development (DSD) rested on many pillars. One of these was collaboration. The two departments collaborated with each other to agree and form policies with regard to infrastructure. They enjoyed a close working relationship.

Another pillar on which this relationship rested was the regular meetings held between the officials in each department. These were both formal and informal meetings, which dealt with specific projects and requirements around infrastructure. It was important that both departments were aware of the intricacies within these projects, and this was why these frequent meetings were important, as both parties needed to sign off on certain projects. There were also direct lines of communication between the senior managers of the departments in order to provide for swift dispute resolution.

The secure facilities described in the presentation were listed on the priority order identified by the DSD. Over the next three years, the DTPW was expected to have spent R75 million on the completion of maintenance upgrades.

Finally, infrastructure had its challenges, so the balancing of needs and the funding allocation was always a major challenge. The availability of suitable sites was a difficulty, as well as problems inherent in the sites themselves, whether they be zoning issues or otherwise.  As with any infrastructure, and particularly here in the Western Cape, one finds that the external environment is always a challenge. For example, a site may need additional fencing, extra security measures and so on.

Discussion

Ms W Philander (DA) referred to maintenance, and asked whether or not there were officials who went around and did inspections of the buildings, or whether the Department relied on officers in those buildings to report on any maintenance issues.

Ms R Windvogel (ANC) asked why it took so long to start a given project.

Mr R McKenzie (DA) sought more information on the specific division of maintenance between the two departments, and wanted to know what the timeline was for the resolution of some of the bigger infrastructure issues that may fall out of the scope of the Department.

Ms Windvogel also asked the Department how their planning worked, and who made the final decisions.

DTPW response

Ms Jacqueline Gooch, Head of Department (HOD): DTPW, said that the reason projects took so long to start was in some respects linked to the user-asset management plan. The process that was followed was where the users were required to identify their needs in what was called a User Asset Management Plan (UAMP), a document that each user in a provincial government was required to prepare. Each department then filled this UAMP out, stating their needs and requirements. There was thus an element of the users themselves indicating the issues they found on their properties. They also identified new needs, so if they required new buildings or maintenance to be done, they would indicate this in the UAMP. The Department then had to look at these requirements and prioritise all the needs, and balance them with their budget allocation.  There were various other processes which then needed to happen behind the scenes before one saw a construction site, and that was why it could take some time for key projects to start. However, the Department had tried to put measures in place to ensure that the speed of initiating projects increased.

Ms Campbell said scheduled maintenance followed the same process as UAMPs in order to establish the various needs so that prioritisation and budget allocation could take place. The relationship with the user departments was therefore very critical for the exchange of relevant information with regard to maintenance issues and needs. The Department did have framework contracts in place for day to day operational maintenance, which allowed them to procure the services and the materials that they needed for different types of maintenance.

Ms A Bans (ANC) wanted to know who was responsible for service points.

Mr R Mackenzie (DA) asked about a faulty lift in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament (WCPP) building that had not been sorted out for six years. Why had there been such a long delay with this repair?

Ms Gooch said that there were maintenance crews who had visited the building and had found upon inspection that the reason why the lifts did not work on occasion was because people had dropped things down the shafts, which had caused the doors to become faulty. There were also internal electronic problems, and there were many of these sensitive cases. This was very difficult for the Department to always monitor, but they had tried to find different lift manufacturers in order to improve the quality of the lifts, and reduce the mechanical problems.

Department of Social Development on funding for residential facilities of older persons

Mr Denzil Cowley, Director: Special Programmes, DSD, said the presentation would, amongst other things, indicates a spread amongst the various regions in the Western Cape where the old age homes were. There were quite a few old age homes in the Cape Winelands areas because historically, a lot of homes had been built in that specific area.

The physical pay-out that was made went to those elderly persons who were poor. There were about 9 000 bed spaces in the old age homes that received support, and about 143 open bed spaces since the last review. There were currently about 7 000 old age persons who required the services of the Department, and there were 850 people who fell into the category of those persons who lived independently.

An important goal for the next financial year was for the funding model to be reviewed. This was because of the way the population was growing. The latest census had shown that there was a 30% growth in the number of people over the age of 85. People living in the Western Cape Province had the longest life span, and due to the access to health care services, they also had the lowest mortality rates. The funding model needed to be looked at in order to accommodate this. More funding needed to be allocated to elderly persons with illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, as they needed the most care. The Department was looking at ways to do this.

Furthermore, with the increase in the population of elderly persons, there was a need to allocate more funding to home-based care. The Department of Health funded home-based care through community-based carers, but these were generic. The DSD wanted specialised people to look after older persons. The model of home-based care needed to be looked at, because there may be a lack of space in the old age homes.

The Department often heard of cases where old age persons had been abused and had acted accordingly, removing these abusers and instituting prosecutions. 

Discussion

Ms D Baartman (DA) wanted to know the process involved in turning a building into a rehabilitation centre. She wanted to know why many social workers were leaving certain areas, because this affected child welfare in these areas.

Mr Cowley said that the Department had community profiles of their regions and communities, and through this they could monitor where there was a gap in needs, and perform a needs analysis if need be. When it came to the creation of rehabilitation centres, there first needed to be a determination of who owned the particular property. The Department of Social Development themselves did not own, lease or build any property -- this was all done by the Department of Public Works. If an open space was identified, and the DSD knew who the owner was, they could then express an interest in that building and ask for it to be zoned as a rehabilitation centre. If the building belonged to a municipality, then they ed to set up the infrastructure, do the renovations, and then a non-profit organisation (NPO) would be brought in to run the centre.

There were between 800 and 900 social workers. Social work was a rare skill in this country, and many good social workers had been lost to the international market. The Department had thus been working with other organisations who independently recruit social workers, as it simply did not have enough social workers to meet all of the needs of the various communities. 

Department of Human Settlements on the Housing Special Needs Policy

Ms Nicky Sasman: Department of Human Settlements (DHS), said from the Department’s perspective, there had to be a holistic approach to dealing with special needs, which included old age persons, the disabled and the other vulnerable members of society. The DHS had been inundated with requests from the Department of Health to provide accommodation for special needs persons and proper shelter for persons who need dialysis so that their treatment could take place in a healthier environment.

There had also been DSD representation from women’s shelters like Saartjie Baartman and others, and there had been requests made to the Department of Human Settlements to look into providing, both permanent and temporary housing for these people.

The policy had been completed in 2016, but had yet to be signed off. In terms of the qualifying criteria, the beneficiaries of this policy would need to be South African residents or people with permanent residency status in the country. There was a condition that all persons should be 18 and over, but this had been removed once the Department established that there were in fact children who were also in need of housing. Regarding income categories, the policy was going to look at households with an income of R7 500 or less, but it had been found that victims of domestic abuse in particular may need to be assisted irrespective of what they earned, because people sometimes left home owing to emergencies. Rejecting them on the basis that they did not earn within the bracket would therefore defeat the purpose and objectives of the policy.

Beneficiaries who had previously owned residential properties were also going to be accepted in this programme. This was because of certain emergency cases which had to be accounted for. All persons over the age of 60 and persons with various disabilities would also be included, along with the homeless and destitute, and victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking. The idea was that people would come in and use the facilities until they no longer needed them, and then leave in order for the next set of beneficiaries to be accommodated.

The biggest sticking point in the whole process involved the roles and responsibilities, because the Department of Human Settlements needed to work with the Department of Social Development. The NPOs who were involved would work with the DSD in order to oversee and facilitate the intake process. There had also been discussions on whether or not to involve the municipalities, but there had been no representation in this regard as of yet.

Discussion

The Chairperson referred to the application process, and asked if there was preference given to the old and frail, as well as the physically disabled, when it came specifically to placement. She gave an example of a frail old person being placed on the top floor of a facility, where they would be able to come down, but would struggle to get back up again.

Ms Bans asked the Department who was currently in charge of taking care of those members of society who had special needs, while the policy was yet to be adopted.

Ms Philander had a concern regarding cases reported of houses being allocated fraudulently, What measures, if any, were being put in place to prevent this from happening? What were the budget implications of adopting this special needs policy?

Ms Sasman, responding to the question on the budget implications, said the elderly were prioritised in subsidiary allocations. Regarding the rental stock, or what was commonly referred to as “the flats,” this had always been a major problem. What had been done was in those instances where persons indicated that they needed to be on the ground level, they had to give up the existing flat that they were in, and then should no other person be negatively implicated, those individuals could be prioritised. The challenge with this was that these individuals expected to stay in the area they were in, and this was not always possible.

Currently, in the absence of the policy, funding and assistance took place independently and privately, which was not ideal, as this meant that not everyone who was in need was getting help. This was one of the reasons for the frustrations regarding the delay in the formal adoption of this policy. The Department of Social Development assisted with the scrutiny and selection of beneficiaries through the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that they fund.

The meeting was adjourned.

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