Older Persons Bill: briefing on proposed amendments

Social Development

31 January 2006
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Meeting report

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
1 February 2006
DRAFT AMENDMENTS TO OLDER PERSONS BILL: BRIEFING

Chairperson: Ms T Tshivhase (ANC)

Documents handed out:
No documents were handed out.

Relevant documents:
Amendments Proposed: Older Persons Bill [B68B-2003]

SUMMARY

The Department of Social Development presented the Committee with the latest proposed draft amendments to the Older Persons Bill [B68B-2003]. The briefing followed previous deliberations and discussions on the Bill after the Committee had conducted public hearings on it. Members asked for clarity on admissions to facilities, the care and supervision of mentally-ill older persons, subsidisation of services rendered by non-governmental organisations and the role of municipalities in provision of welfare services to older persons.

MINUTES
Department of Social Development (DSD): Briefing
Mr P du Preez (Legal Drafter: DSD) highlighted that the Department had just a few proposed clauses to bring to the Committee’s attention for discussion and later for approval.

The following were the proposed amendments:

Support for services delivered by third parties

Mr du Preez proposed that Clause 7 be rejected because after drafting the document they realised there was duplication as Clause 9 dealt with financial services in the Bill. This read:

"The Minister-

(a) may, in consultation with the Minister of Finance , provide financial awards to service providers that provide services to older persons from funds appropriated by Parliament for that purpose;"

Admission to facilities

1. On page 7, after line 10, to insert:

"(5) Notwithstanding subsection (4), an older person may be admitted to a facility without his or her consent, if a medical practitioner registered in terms of the Health Professions Act, 1974 (Act No. 56 of 1974), certifies that-

(a) failure to admit the older person will result in serious risk to his or her health; or

(b) a delay in the admission might result in the older person's death or irreversible damage to his or her health and the older person has not expressly impliedly or by conduct refused that admission;

(6) if an older person was admitted to a facility in terms of subsection (5), the operator of the facility in question must notify the Director-General of the older person's admission within 48 hours of the admission."

Mr Du Preez proposed that sub-paragraph (a) be deleted while adding sub-clause (7), which read as follows:

"(7) after being notified as contemplated in subsection (6), the Director- General must determine the appropriate cause of action that will be in the best interest of the older person."

Mr du Preez confirmed that a copy with the proposed changes would be finalised and submitted to the Committee on Monday, 6 February.

Mr B Solo (ANC) objected to the proposed amendments regarding admissions to facilities. He indicated that the study group of the ANC had expressed concerns about the clauses. The main concern included the fact that it could be possible that some older persons would be "dragged" into the facilities against their will.

Mr Solo proposed that the clause be flagged for further discussion and the Committee accepted the proposal.

Services at Facilities

Mr du Preez proposed a new Clause 22 that read:

"22. The following services may be rendered at facilities:

(a) 24- hour care and support services to frail older persons;
(b) care and supervision services to older persons, who are suffering from dementia and related diseases,
(c) rehabilitation services;
(d) public education on issues of ageing, including dementia,
(e) counselling services to residents and family members who need these services;
(f) implementation and monitoring of outreach programmes;
(g)
provision of beds for the temporary accommodation of older persons at risk;
(h) respite care services; and
(i) training of volunteer caregivers to deal with frail older persons."

Discussion

Ms Gumede (ANC) asked if care and supervision were confined to people who suffered from the specified illnesses such as dementia only as it appeared in the Bill.

Advocate M Masutha (ANC) shared the same sentiments with Ms Gumede indicating that if care and supervision were confined to the people with specified ageing illnesses, then the assumption would be that some services excluded older persons who did not suffer from dementia.

Ms N Kela (Chief Director: DSD) responded that the services provided were not confined only to older persons suffering from dementia, but because people who suffered from dementia required special and extra care to ensure their protection.

Adv. Masutha questioned the efficiency of sport and recreation services in institutions where older persons resided. Where sport and recreational facilities existed, did they cater for older persons’ needs?

Ms S Sikawana said that any facility could provide those services but the Department felt provision of facilities should be prioritized; therefore basic care was more important than sport and recreation facilities that would be utilised by a few people.

Regarding Magistrates' decision in an event where a person had been found guilty of an offence against an older person, the Committee felt that the Bill should state clearly all procedures that needed to be followed by Magistrates. Adv. Masutha was concerned that Magistrates would not always know what they had to do with some cases regarding older persons.

Adv Masutha questioned the Department's involvement in subsidising supporting initiatives carried out by community-based organisations and volunteers because those organisations had extensive outreach programmes. Adv Masutha said that considering subsidising such initiatives would address the lack of qualified social workers faced by formal institutions.

Mr B Solo (ANC) added that the problem of lack of capacity was more prominent in rural areas as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) continued to face a lack of capacity. They were unable to provide efficient assistance needed by communities. He asked what role the Department played to assist in that regard.

Ms Kela acknowledged that the Department was still faced with problems, especially with regards to providing support to initiatives by volunteers. She added that political principals in the provinces had to determine the provision of services to the respective categories of people. This was something the Department was still working on to fast track to ensure that services reached provinces as well as communities.

The Chairperson asked what role, if any, municipalities played in ensuring that services were provided effectively in facilities where older persons resided.

Ms Kela said that the Department was working with heads of Social Welfare Services from provinces and negotiations were ongoing between provincial and local governments, which would ensure better service provision. She acknowledged that they were experiencing problems but were looking at the matter.

Mr Solo suggested delegating other tasks to the already existing initiatives such as the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) to ensure collaboration and co-ordination of services. He felt that that would be better than tasking municipalities with too many tasks that would eventually be difficult to perform.

The meeting was adjourned.



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