Department ‘can’t afford frail care’
Social development MEC confirms no new patients admitted to centres in Eastern Cape over past year
The Eastern Cape department of social development is struggling to afford to take in new frail-care patients, social development MEC Dr Pumza Dyantyi has confirmed.
While she denied that the department was depriving older, frail patients admission, she said “severely frail patients” were being referred to the department of health.
The department of social development has confirmed that no patients have been admitted to frail-care centres over the past year.
In a written answer to a question asked by the DA’s Kobus Botha, Dyantyi said: “The department is unable to afford the exorbitant fees charged for private services in these facilities.”
Currently the department is paying about R18,000 per patient per month.
The only two state frail-care facilities in the province are run under the banner of Life Esidimeni by Eastern Cape Frail Care.
She confirmed that the department was, however, abiding by the Port Elizabeth’s High Court order, issued in 2017, which stated that the department was not allowed to move, discharge or relocate any patients who were at the facilities at the time without the permission of an advocate appointed for them.
The Eastern Cape department of health ended the longterm contract with Life Esidimeni in December 2017 and at the time planned to move patients into the care of nongovernment organisations.
Most NGOs, however, declined to take patients as they said the full-time care of frail patients was too expensive and was not covered by the subsidy the department was willing to pay.
The court application was brought in the wake of the deaths of more than 100 patients who were moved from Life Esidimeni facilities in Gauteng to the care of NGOs.
Dyantyi said the department was mandated by law to provide 24-hour care and support services for frail, older persons who needed special attention.
“Frail persons under the age of 60 or severely frail, older persons fall within the mandate of the department of health,” she said.
She said the department was developing a new funding model that would be dependent on a national process – which is currently under way – to determine uniform rates across all provinces.
Meanwhile, several patients are living at state hospitals across the province because they have not been admitted to frail-care centres.
According to sources at Livingstone Hospital, one man had been living at the facility for close to 18 months before acquaintances agreed to take care of him in exchange for his welfare grant.
Health spokesperson Lwandile Sicwetsha said he was unaware of any change in the policy that would require the health department to now assume responsibility for frailcare patients.
The CEO of the Algoa Bay Council for the Aged, Maureen Andreka, said it would welcome a move to implement uniform subsidies across provinces and that the move was long overdue.