Shafiq Morton and Al Qalam Reporter
AN innovative plan to establish healthcare and accommodation centres for the elderly across various towns and cities across the country are at an advanced stage, with the first such facility to be built in Lenasia and then in Raslouw near Centurion, thanks to two generous donors of the land.
The project is being driven by Awqaf-South Africa. While the facilities would employ highly qualified full-time caregivers as its core, there are opportunities for volunteers to get involved, and help ensure that patients and residents are given care in the “best physical and emotional and spiritual environment – an environment where they feel at home and where they enjoy living as a community rather than as inmates of an institution.”
According to Awqaf South Africa, the caring of the frail and elderly fall within the ambit of the Department of Social Development.
“However majority of the existing facilities were created during the apartheid era and are still race based primarily for whites. Many are operated by faith-based groups, for example, the Methodist Church. The frail and elders in dire straits and in destitute conditions find it extremely difficult to find suitable accommodation and care.”
“We hope and trust that Dar Al Shifa will be the beginning of a responsible and loving caring for our frail and elders irrespective of race, colour or creed. We ask for duas and support. More details will be made available at the appropriate time. Suffice to say that it is envisaged that DarushShifa will be flagship project of Awqaf SA and will operate on Social Enterprise principles.”
Meanwhile, Al Qalam correspondent, Shafiq Morton, reports that DaruShifa will work closely with its parent body, Awqaf-South Africa, as well as the Islamic Medical Association, and would adhere to national and international norms, standards and best practice.
DaruShifa Co-ordinator and founder, Mahomed Siddiq Tayob said: “When we saw this, we recognised an urgent social need and we realised we had to act.
“To these ends we founded DaruShifa and Awqaf SA flew in Dr Kemal Aydin, a Turkish-based physician and a gerontologist of more than 25 years’ experience, and asked him to provide a model for us to provide effective health and social care for the elderly based on successful international practices.”
Tayob said DaruShifa – which means “the abode of healing” – started its service with home-based care in Lenasia, where trained caregivers assisted elderly patients to recuperate from ill health, or to cope with their daily living needs whilst in the comfort of their own homes, in a familiar environment.
“So many times, the family is under financial stress, and cannot be at home during the day. This means the elderly person is left alone. Also, family members are not trained to assist their elderly family member, who might need more specialised attention.”
He said that since 2014 they had extended their service to post-operative care.
“This temporary care is provided in the home, or in future – God-willing – at our elders care centre with the recovery period ranging from 6-8 weeks, depending on the patient and the procedure performed,” he said.
“In order to provide a proper service, we need qualified and trained individuals with accredited training. To this end at DaruShifa, we partnered up with St John’s. They trained our first caregivers, many of whom are still with us today.
“DaruShifa also advises on home modifications to support the mobility of the elderly. Counselling for family members and caregivers is available. Debriefing is essential to maintain a healthy emotional and psychological state of being when dealing with a frail and ill loved one,” said Tayob.
He added that DaruShifa had a fundraising dinner in October 17 last year, and conducted regular workshops, and published articles in community newspapers to educate the public on the growing needs of the elderly.
“However, after four years of a focus on home care, we have decided to roll out the next phase, which is the purchase and establishment of our very own elders care facility in Lenasia. We estimate that by 2050, today’s youth will start to age, and we have to be prepared.”
Awqaf SA’s CEO Zeinoul Cajee, who has taken a keen interest in the project, said he hoped DaruShifa would be a model for a much-needed national project.
“To realise this, and our social upliftment aspirations, we will be hosting a pledge line on the ITV Network, Channel 347 on the M-Net bouquet, on 13 April from 20.30 pm to the early hours. Everyone is welcome to tune in and make a difference,” said Awqaf SA’s CEO Zeinoul Cajee