Frail care centres get R115m lifeline

Frail care centres in the Eastern Cape will get a R115-million boost in the upcoming financial year, Finance MEC Sakhumzi Somyo said yesterday.

This was to ensure that the elderly and frail were properly cared for.

Somyo said there was a special focus on frail care centres, particularly in light of the deaths of 94 psychiatric patients in Gauteng and concerns around Bhisho’s plan to move patients from the two state-funded specialist frail care centres in Nelson Mandela Bay. The Bay centres – Algoa Frail Care and Lorraine Frail Care – were on the verge of closure last year when the contract for East Cape Frail Care, a Life Healthcare Group company that manages the two centres, was not renewed. The contract was extended later on the order of the Port Elizabeth High Court and premier Phumulo Masualle intervened afterwards. Speaking on the sidelines after delivering his budget speech yesterday, Somyo said they had decided to allocate R115.4-million towards frail care centres in the province to avoid a repeat of the Gauteng deaths debacle.

“We know the issue of Nelson Mandela Bay is a burning one, but we have allocated R115.4-million for frail care services in the entire province,” he said. “The money is to address the challenges, but it does not end there. “The department needs to up its game and follow proper procurement processes. “We have a duty as government to look after the frail and the elderly.” Somyo said he understood the concerns of Nelson Mandela Bay residents who were worried about where their loved ones would be moved to. “Their fears are reasonable,” he said. “We must emphasise that we are a caring government. “The premier said in his state of the province [address] that we have to care for the elderly and the frail, making sure they rest in proper conditions.”