‘Equal subsidies’ drive for frail care

Martin exhorts department to appeal court order halting shutting down of facilities in the province

Elderly hands. File picture
Elderly hands. File picture
Image: Pixabay.com

In an effort to establish equal services for the elderly and the frail, metro social development portfolio committee chairman Christian Martin has asked the Department of Social Development to appeal against a court order that stops the shutdown of current frail care services in the province.

“I believe in fairness, reasonableness and public interest,” Martin said. He said the disparity between the R18 000 subsidy received by the two Life Esidimeni frail care centres and the R1 750 subsidy for old age homes was unfair, unreasonable and not in the public interest.

The court order was obtained by family members of patients currently cared for at the two Life Esidimeni centres in the province, Lorraine Frail Care and Algoa Frail Care in December 2016.

Since then the service provider, Eastern Cape Frail Care, a subsidiary of the Life Healthcare Group, kept the service going and was paid by the department in terms of a court order issued in December 2016 and extended ever since.

“We are constantly talking about rectifying the past. That is why I asked them to go on appeal. I am fighting for everybody – people in frail care and people in the old age homes,” Martin said.

Christian Martin. File picture
Christian Martin. File picture
Image: The Herald

He said he had asked the department to propose an equal subsidy for both the old age homes and the frail care facilities.

“When I asked what the best practice is elsewhere, they wanted to go to America and Europe. I said ‘no’.

“Go to the other provinces. Come and tell us what they do in Gauteng and in the Western Cape. I want to know what is happening there.”

He said as he wanted to be fair he would support the idea that all patients should remain in frail care until the court gave a verdict.

“One of the biggest reasons why I decided to say something is that I did not want anybody to die on my watch. Nobody in the frail care centres but also nobody in the old age homes,” he said. “This is what it is all about. I have to fight for everybody.”

“I want the Department of Social Development to present me with a plan to provide equal subsidies to all these facilities.”

Martin said the committee was frustrated with the lack of movement on the frail care issue in the province.

Department of Social Development spokesman Mzukisi Solani said the department had appointed a multi-disciplinary committee to plan for the migration of patients to other centres.

He said officials from the provincial treasury and the departments of Health and Social Development were serving on this committee.

He added that there had been no consultation with family members of patients at the centres.

Solani said there were 211 patients in the two frail care centres and they would not accept new patients for the time being.