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With World Elder Abuse Awareness Day placing the spotlight on the plight of the elderly, the City has a number of interventions in place to protect these residents, not least of which is the popular home-based care programme. Read more below:

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day tomorrow, 15 June 2017, provides an opportunity to reflect on the protection of our elderly residents. The City of Cape Town has once again trained and employed hundreds of home-based carers (HBCs) to provide support and companionship to senior citizens across the city in the 2016/17 financial year.

The HBC Programme is one of several initiatives implemented annually under the auspices of the Social Development Department’s Vulnerable Groups Programme. As envisioned in the Organisational Development and Transformation Plan, the City is committed to improving the lives of its residents by taking services directly to them and this year R2,5 million was set aside to employ 205 carers. The group has just started winding down their activities and the programme is expected to resume once more towards the end of the year.

The City contracts the services of unemployed residents via the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) for a period of two months, provides training, and then deploys the HBCs to senior citizens in need across eight districts.

Areas include Imizamo Yethu, Dunoon, Joe Slovo (Milnerton), Mfuleni, Sir Lowry’s Pass Village, Silversands, Wesbank, Nomzamo, Kalkfontein, Macassar, Lwandle, Happy Valley, Wallacedene, Scottsdene, Klipheuwel, Scottsville, Bloekombos, Bellville South, Delft, Elsies River, Belhar, Uitsig, Khayelitsha, Heideveld, Philippi, Ocean View, Retreat, Masiphumelele and Mitchells Plain.

Apart from providing companionship and performing basic tasks around the home for their clients, the carers are also trained to:

  • identify signs of potential abuse and alert the relevant authorities
  • assist their clients to access medical care and other social services like grants, identity documents, etc.
  • assist clients with budgeting and monitoring that process

‘Financial exploitation is probably one of the most common forms of abuse of our elderly. The stories are well documented of senior citizens either being forced to support entire families on their social grants or being duped out of their money by relatives. This is no way for anyone to live, especially not our elderly residents who deserve to spend their golden years with peace of mind. Sadly, the reality for many is the exact opposite and often that financial exploitation also goes hand in hand with physical abuse. Our home-based carers are trained to be on the lookout for any signs of abuse, exploitation and neglect,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Area North, Councillor Suzette Little.

Other City interventions aimed at empowering the elderly include hosting seniors days in association with the Cape Peninsula Organisation for the Aged, organising the annual Cape Town Games for Older Persons, providing assistance to senior citizens clubs, and offering skills development and awareness days for the elderly.

‘As a society, we have to re-evaluate our relationship with our seniors. We need to focus less on their vulnerabilities and put greater emphasis on the value that they’ve brought to our communities and continue to bring. There are so many people who are wholly dependent on the elders in their families – whether they’re keeping a roof over your head, caring for your children while you’re at work, or raising your children full-time. Yet many view them as a burden, thinking they have outlived their usefulness. The City is reaching out as best it can, but ultimately it is the responsibility of families to care for and nurture their elders,’ added Councillor Little.

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