Implementation of recommendations by Ministerial Committee on abuse of Older Persons: briefing

Social Development

23 October 2001
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Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
24 October 2001
IMPLEMENTATION OF RECOMMENDATIONS BY MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE ON ABUSE OF OLDER PERSONS: BRIEFING

Chairperson:
Mr E Saloojee

Documents handed out:
Progress on the Implementation of the Ministerial Committee on the abuse of Elder Persons (see Appendix)

SUMMARY
The Department of Social Development briefed the Committee on the recommendations made by the Ministerial Committee on the abuse of elder persons and how they impacted on the Department. The recommendations include the need for an audit of services available to the elderly as well as an audit of old age homes. This audit will establish the extent of transformation and implementation of the Aged Persons Act.

MINUTES

Ms Mahlangu, Deputy Director: Department of Social Development, opened her briefing by stating that all the recommendations made by the Ministerial Committee fell into three categories. The first category of recommendations had an impact on the Department of Social Development (DSS). The second category had an impact on the community. The final category had an impact on other Departments. The briefing would focus only on the first category.

The transformation of services for older persons was monitored by three structures namely the ministerial, national and provincial task teams to drive, monitor and implement respectively the transformation.

She listed and explained the recommendations as follows:

-To audit services for older persons. These services would be of any nature. Audits would be conducted in the provinces and the data submitted to the Department of Social Services (DSS).
-To audit old age home by means of questionnaires that would be self-administered by relevant authorities at the homes. The aim of the audit was to investigate the extent of transformation and implementation as provided by the Old Age Persons Act, 1998. This process has started and some homes have responded. Ms Mahlangu, however, expressed her concern about the SAVV's refusal to participate in the audit survey. On the same breathe she was pleased to announce that the Northern Cape Province had established a Task Team to drive the transformation of old age homes to enhance access to all the homes.
-To refer all social security issues to the Social security Section.
-To have provincial task teams to follow up cases of abuse of older persons. However, some provinces are still struggling to set up such task teams and refer the complaints to ether social security offices or local officers.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked what the difference was between public and private old age homes and the implication thereof in terms of government subsidies and loans that were made to build the homes.
Ms Mahlangu responded that the matter was complicated and would become clearer as the audit progressed.
A Member asked which provinces submitted the questionnaires and which rural areas were included in the survey.

Mr Theron (Department) explained that those provinces which had submitted were Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Western Cape and rural areas were included in the survey. Ms Mahlangu added that while the SVV was not co-operative it would be required to participate because it received subsidy from the government.

Another Member asked whether the government subsidised private old age homes and also wanted to know who owned those homes. The response was no and that the homes were privately owned.

A Member asked about the relationship between the Northern Province's desk for older persons and other structures and what its function was.
In response Mr Theron said that the province was the only one with persons responsible for such work and that there was of course a problem of overlapping roles. However, he stressed that the existence of such a desk was an impressive development.

The Chairperson enquired how government loans for building the homes were discounted. Mr Du Preez, Legal advisor to the Department, was unsure but undertook to find out and report back to the Committee.

On the subject of discounted loans one Member commented that most white old age homes were privately owned but had been financed by government loans whereas all black old age homes were state property. She also explained that discounted loans could mean paying part of the loan balance or writing off the loans, but she that she was not sure.

Still on the subject of discounted loans one Member advised the Committee to check the report on the audit of state buildings by the Department of Public Works from which she thought maybe some of the questions would be answered.

Mr Masutha (ANC) asked if there was a policy for subsidising old age homes and if the Department of Social Services had the authority and capacity to enforce measures to protect older persons.
The response was that while there was a national policy the provinces had no common policy. The Department was looking into regularising such policy at provincial level. On the question of enforcement the response was that there was no capacity at all.

A Member asked what the number of community based care centres was.
The response was that there were no figures pending the audit report.

Another Member asked if there were records of intakes into old age homes since they were open to every old aged person and also wanted to know if the community was made aware of the availability of such facilities. The response was that there were no changes at all and that the community was being made aware of such facilities.

One Member asked if there was progress being made on home based care. Ms Mahlangu said there was no progress being made.

A Member asked if it was possible to access data from the Eastern Cape audit questionnaire. Ms Mahlangu said it was available only as raw data and that it was advisable to rather wait for the whole audit to be completed.

Dr Baloyi (ANC) asked if the Department had taken into account factors such as the growing population of elderly persons and HIV/AIDS before building facilities for older persons. Another Member reiterated the importance of this question.
Ms Mahlangu responded that the idea of a multipurpose centre would be able to deal with such factors.

Mr Mabeta (UDM) asked if the Department has considered the problem of older persons who are evicted because they were unable to pay for services. Mr Theron said such problems needed the intervention of many departments and local authorities.

A Member asked if the Department knew of any facilities for frail care rather than hospitals and also wanted to know what percentage of a pension goes to old age homes. The answer for the first question was that the DSS had no knowledge and on the second on the answer was that the percentage depended on provinces.

One Member asked if the Ministerial Committee visited the Ekuphilene home and witnessed the poor service rendered to old people. The reply was that the home was visited but it was difficult to witness such problems during a one-day visit.

A Member commented that the Department must have a time frame for the audit. Mr Theron (Department) agreed.

A Member asked if the idea of a multipurpose centre would be applicable in the rural areas. The Department's response was that from the audit data a model would be developed and hence would be suitable for the country.

Another Member asked what the Department was doing about the financial exploitation of older persons. The response was that the Financial Service Board would act against such culprits as shark loans and funeral undertakers.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix:

PROGRESS REGARDING IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF
THE MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE

· Ministerial Task Team

The Minister appointed a task team to drive the Implementation of the recommendations.

· National Task Team on the Transformation of Services to older persons.

The Department established a national task team to serve as a monitoring mechanism as well as a support team for the implementation of recommendations.

· Provincial Task Teams have been established to drive the implementation process. Task teams consist of Department of Social Development and other Departments (e.g. Home Affairs, SAPS, Health).

Recommendations regarding transformation of services.

- Audit of services to older persons.

Provinces are busy with identifying all existing services both formal and informal in and are submitting their findings to the Department.

- Audit of Old Age homes.

The Ministerial Task Team developed a questionnaire, which has been distributed to old age homes in all provinces. Some responses have been received. However in some areas resistance was experienced in old age homes belonging to the SAVV.
Reminder letters for those who have not responded will be sent out to an explanatory note will also be sent out to clarify the purpose of the audit as well as what will be done with the results of the audit.

- The Northern Cape Province has established a Task Team to drive the transformation of the old age homes. The goal is to ensure that old age homes are accessible to all those who need them, also that some facilities be used as multipurpose centres accessible to all.

Social Security Issues.

Issues related to social security such as pension grants, which are outstanding. These have been referred to Social Security Section.

In most provinces Pension Committees related to these.

- Follow up of Reported Cases of abuse.

-
Provincial Task Teams are following up reported cases of abuse. The reported cases have been catalogued provincially and were sent to each Province by the Ministerial Task Team.

However some provinces are still struggling in establishing task teams. Also some provinces have referred their lists of complaints to either social security offices or to local officers for follow up.

- Issues Affecting Other Departments.

Issues relating to other Departments such as Department of Health and Home Affairs.

The DG is attending to this aspect.

- Establishment of a Help line.

The SA Council for Aged has been involved with HEAL. (Holt elder abuse line, whether has now been strengthened. The Department is subsidising this line, which serve as a community resource for older persons who experience abuse.

The Department is envisaging strengthening this line, in such a way that it has a strong response unit, which will need into the National Register for elder abuse.

- Legislation

A draft document has been developed. The document will be sent to the legal section to be developed into a draft bill and later submitted to Cabinet, for approval

Negative Attitudes and Disrespect to Older Persons.

Operation Dignity Programme

- Which aims to restore dignity and respect to Older Persons.
- The programme also serves to promote rights of older persons
- Creating awareness of the promotion of well being to older persons.

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