Saldanha, Western Cape, South Africa – The Portfolio Committee on Social Development commenced its Western Cape public hearings on the Older Persons Amendment Bill in Saldanha, addressing critical issues concerning the care and protection of older persons in the region.
According to parliament of South Africa, Ms. Nonkosi Mvava, chairperson of the committee, outlined that these hearings aim to address existing gaps in the Older Persons Act. According to a new release by the committee, the Older Persons Amendment Bill seeks to enhance the safeguarding of older persons against abuse, eliminate harmful practices like witchcraft accusations, and recognize their role in imparting inter-generational knowledge. Importantly, the Bill also allows for the removal of older persons to temporary safe care without requiring a court order.
During the hearings, West Coast residents highlighted the need for more old age homes, particularly in rural areas, and emphasized the importance of qualified caregivers. Ms. Ursula Griffiths, Managing Director of the National Agri Schools Community Foundation, expressed concerns about the inadequate medical care provided to older persons due to untrained staff in many rural old age homes.
Mr. Shaun Fabricius, a community elder, urged for clear criteria in the Amendment Bill for training and registering caregivers. He also called for established consequence management processes for those practicing without proper training and qualifications.
Ms. Civil Legodu, Chief Director for Professional Support and Older Persons in the National Department of Social Development, informed residents about the imminent rollout of a training manual for caregivers. This initiative aims to address any training deficiencies and includes a database of trainers to ensure caregivers meet the prescribed training criteria. The training will cover identifying abuse and caring for chronic ailments common among older persons.
Ms. Liezel le Roux, representing the Western Cape Provincial Department of Social Development, highlighted the challenges posed by budget cuts, expressing hope for adequate resources to implement the Bill’s amendments.
Ms. Mvana acknowledged the West Coast community’s concerns, noting the significant work required to advance the Bill’s amendments and address the challenges faced by older persons. She emphasized the importance of public input in enriching the legislative process, ensuring that laws passed by Parliament reflect the needs and aspirations of the people.