Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Catering queen Betty turns 95

When Slick Chick Betty Hood turned 95 on March 23, 2020, she may not have been able to celebrate with her family, but Ron Smith Care Centre – where she has lived for the past five years – ensured that her birthday was a special one.

With the novel coronavirus posing a great risk to older people and those with underlying medical conditions, all but essential visits to the Rand Aid care centre are being restricted, which meant that Betty’s son Robert was unable to be with his mom in person on her big day.

“However, he organised lovely eats for everyone on River Lodge 3, the care centre provided a cake and some beautiful flowers for Betty, and a special birthday tea was held to celebrate her momentous day,” says Debbie Christen, Rand Aid’s Recreational Programmes Manager.

Despite being a stay-at-home mom, Betty was part of a highly successful business venture. She was a member of the Slick Chicks, a women-run catering initiative that was a household name in Port Elizabeth for over 20 years.

Betty, née Godwin, and her twin sister Peggy were born in Durban. Betty finished her schooling at a secretarial college before starting work as a secretary at Peach and Hatton in the city.

She met her husband, Leslie Hood, in Durban. He came from Port Elizabeth and had volunteered to serve in the Second World War with the Royal Navy. He was in Durban for training before being posted overseas when he was invited to the Godwin family home for a meal.

That was the start of Leslie and betty’s war-time courtship. After five years of corresponding, they became engaged at the end of the war and married a year later in Durban.

After their wedding in August 1946, the Hoods moved to Port Elizabeth where they settled and raised their five children, Robert, Brian, Peter, Heather and Andrew. Today, Betty has 11 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

Leslie passed away in May 2003, after 57 years of marriage.

Throughout her life, Betty was a keen gardener. She had a green thumb and reigned supreme over a beautiful garden. She was also an active member of the Port Elizabeth Women’s Club, holding the position of president for several years and attended meetings until well into her late 80s.

Betty moved to Australia in 2011 to live with her daughter and family in Queensland,  visiting her sons and their families in Brisbane on a regular basis.

When her health began failing and Betty needed more support, the decision was made for her to return to South Africa in April 2015, after celebrating her 90th birthday with her whole family in Brisbane. Ron Smith Care Centre – which is around the corner from son Robert – became her home.

“Mom’s favourite saying and philosophy in life is ‘Rome wasn't built in a day’ which could surely be the key to her successes in raising her five children and become a household name in her community,” says son Robert.

Staff Nurse Laurentia Jooste shares a quiet moment with Betty and gives her loving wishes for her 95th birthday.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Valentine’s Week at the Ron Smith Care Centre

For the residents at Rand Aid’s Ron Smith Care Centre, Valentine’s Day activities took place over the whole week!

Things kicked off in the OT Activity Centre on Monday and Tuesday, with residents creating paper heart decorations and special bath salts in various colours.

On Wednesday, the residents gathered in the hall for the monthly Lotto Concert, where pianist Chantie Minaar played the beautiful music of love! 

On Thursday, taking advantage of the lovely sunshine, the residents took a walk to the Woodlands Garden and croquet lawn and had fun cheering on those who were enjoying the putt golf. They were also treated to home-made muffins and ice cream – all provided by our very special volunteers who assist with the care centre’s walking group.

Then on Friday, February 14, the residents were surprised as they entered the OT Activity Room, which was transformed into a Day Spa. The mood was set with dimmed lights, candles lit, soothing music playing in the background, a continuous slide show of beautiful nature scenes running silently, and the scent of lavender wafting through the air. Tables were decorated with red and white overlays and a sprinkling of rose petals. 

A welcome drink was offered to the residents on arrival.  They had a choice between a punch of mixed berries or apricot/peach, both served with fresh blueberries. Delicious home-made snacks were then served: cheese and tomato puffs, chicken wings, mini-scones and s’mores.

After enjoying the refreshments, the residents settled in for a relaxing time with hand massages and manicures with nail polish. But there were still treats to come! The OT activity team went around to each of the six care centre wings and presented hand-made chocolates to each of the 140 residents. The chocolates were received with much joy and appreciation!

All in all it was a wonderful Valentine’s Week, with the opportunity to relax and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, get creative with Valentine’s decorations and be spoiled with relaxing spa treatments and chocolates.

The care centre residents accepted the invitation to take the time to love themselves and to allow others to show them some Valentine’s love. 


Welcome drinks by candlelight were offered on Spa Day.

Linden Millard shows off the Valentine’s hearts and bath salts that were made in the OT Activity Centre

Spa day… Sharon Lesufi and Irene Watson.

A little pampering goes a long way… Sarah Richards and Corlia Schutte.

Ginny Lorge and Sharon Lesufi.

Sue Bohmke is delighted with the Valentine’s chocolates from OT Corlia Schutte.

Corlia Schutte and Ems Horn.

Edna Schley is thrilled to receive Valentine’s chocolates from Sharon Lesufi.

Gladys Rosenberg and Pam Martins.

Margaret Sinnett receives a lovely hand massage from Salina Mtshali.

Pretty in red… Phyllis Glass, Denise Stewart and Louise Newman.

Enjoying the Valentine’s snacks before the spa treatments.


 Eddie Lazer lines up his shot.  Looks good! 

Residents and volunteers enjoy some sunshine. Front: Megan Weeks, Debbie Christen and Louise Newman. Back: Yvonne Butts, Herb Scheiber and Dugald Paterson.

Christine Kincaid Smith, Norah Dzivhani, Shirley Makawera, Salina Mtshali and Colleen Blowe enjoying the golf.

Molly Matroos, Kathy Sen, Sherrill Singh and Dan Oi Loo.

Resident Lorraine Lowden (far right) is surrounded by the special volunteers who assist with the walking programme. From left to right: Helen Dix, Yvonne Butts, Herb Scheiber, Sheryl Emmett and Dugald Paterson.

Phyllis Glass and friends enjoying the golf! 

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Ron Smith Care Centre’s sparkly Christmas celebration

The residents and staff of Rand Aid’s Ron Smith Care Centre enjoyed a beautiful celebration of Christmas on December 18, with a delicious lunch, lively music and entertainment by a group of dancers from the SA Seniors Fitness Association, along with the care centre’s staff dance team.

Resident Jill Jones comments:

“The dining room was festively decorated for the Christmas lunch, with a red, green and white theme. Balloons and stars hung from the ceiling, and the paper serviettes with partridge in a pear tree motif were so apt. Red and gold crackers, tinsel and baubles added festive touches to the tables.

“All the staff and residents who created the decorations and worked so hard to transform the dining room have our appreciation and gratitude, as do those who cleared up afterwards.

“The SA Seniors Fitness Association really looked very natty in their red and white outfits, and obviously enjoyed performing their routines, which were well received. 

“The lunch menu included fruit cocktail; roast lamb and gammon with roast potatoes, pumpkin and creamed spinach; and crème brûlée for dessert. It was delicious.

“Our grateful thanks go to Rand Aid for planning and budgeting for this special occasion for us, so that Christmas becomes a really home-from-home occasion, with thoughtful little touches to enhance the experience. We are truly blessed and so fortunate to live here.”

Zabeth Zühlsdorff, Rand Aid’s GM Services and Advanced Division, commented:
“From watching the residents, it was clear that the décor, entertainment and food were much appreciated by residents and that everyone had an excellent time.”

Members of the SA Seniors Fitness Association instructed by Nancy Clarke (2nd row: left) and the Ron Smith Care Centre Staff Dance Team with Debbie Christen, Rand Aid’s Manager: Recreational Programmes (2nd row: right).

Gail Spinks and Dineo Tshukutshware.

Nikiwe Thengwayo and Grace Ratisani with Simmy Slater and Joy Klopper.

Gill Holliman and Johanna Mokwele.

Shelagh Hawes, Charlotte Tema and Brian Russell.

Enjoying the party: Odette Matamba and Irene Watson.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Putt putt golf under shade sails

The wonderful Woodlands Garden area at Ron Smith Care Centre has become even more inviting with the addition of a shade sail over the putt golf green and croquet lawn.

“These sails not only complete the aesthetics of the area but provide much needed protection and shade from the sun for our residents and staff, enabling greater usage of the area by our care centre community,” says Debbie Christen, Rand Aid Manager: Recreational Programmes.

The lovely landscaped area includes a beautiful lapa with braai facilities, a jungle gym for children visiting their loved ones and a pavilion overlooking the Astroturf. Croquet and putt-putt golf can be played in the Garden.

A short stroll from the Garden is the wheelchair-friendly bridge that crosses the Jukskei River and leads to sister Rand Aid villages Tarentaal and Inyoni Creek.

Eleanor Motsepe on the move through the course.

Josephine Kew with volunteer Janine Tuson.

Lorraine Lowden lines up her shot. Looking good! 

Joy Smith, volunteer Jenny Holzberg and Gladys Rosenberg enjoy the golf and sunshine.

Phyllis Glass and her carer Emily.

Peggy Roberts with volunteer Dugald Paterson.

Volunteer Helen Dix with Christine Kincaid-Smith.

Looks like it’s going to be a hole-in-one for Eleanor Motsepe!

RSCC residents watching the action.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Water play bonds colleagues and builds relationships

The nursing staff of Ron Smith Care Centre’s River Lodge 1 and 2 packed their swimming towels and headed off to Happy Island water park in Muldersdrift on October 26 for a day of team-building fun.

Teamwork and team building are important aspects of the Eden Alternative people-first philosophy that has been embraced by the care centre and regular staff outings are thus organised by the staff, for the staff.

Sister Leanie Bessinger shares the events of the day:

On arrival, we picked out a big enough spot for our large group of 19 people on the beach in front of the sea, pitched our gazebo and got organised.

“Everybody was in a hurry to get into the water. We didn’t know where to start as there were so many options of large waterslides, an enormous sea and, of course, the lazy river.

“We were like children giggling and laughing all the way, trying to pick our first water slide. We were a bit apprehensive going on our first ride as it was a huge waterslide, called ‘The Trumpet’. Four people go on one tube! I think we all had palpitations sitting on that tube waiting to be pushed down the slide.

“I don’t think we had ever screamed that hard. You literally shoot into an enormous trumpet and are pushed from one side to the other by a strong stream of water, until it spits you out at the bottom like a piece of chewing gum.

“Needless to say, we were laughing and screaming at the same time when we were ‘spat out’ into a small pool. We struggled to get out of the tube as we were all in stitches, laughing at each other screaming as we came down.

“The Trumpet was just the beginning of our adventurous day. We went on every slide possible. We tried the lazy river – on which we got stuck, swam in the sea and were tumbled by the waves – with some lost swimwear and counted down with the rest of the patrons each time a huge wave was coming. WE HAD FUN!

“On that day we forgot about all our troubles; we were carefree. We were like children starting a new adventure. Our only worry was which slide would be next.  

“I don’t think there was one person who did not enjoy themselves. We came back home tired and full of bruises, with painful bodies (a reminder of our real age!), some of us worse than others. But I think if you ask any of us if we would do it again, we would say ‘yes’ without a second thought.

“This day created a sense of camaraderie amongst us. When we see each other in the corridors, we greet each other with a smile, remembering the day we had so much fun together.”

The teams from River Lodge 1 and 2 at Happy Island.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Seeing care through the eyes of an elder

The Housekeeping and Kitchen staff of Rand Aid’s Ron Smith Care Centre who participated in the Eden Alternative Open Hearts Open Minds training in October, were honoured at an Awards Ceremony on November 8.

Some of the feedback on the training, which was presented by Debbie Christen, Rand Aid’s Manager: Recreational Programmes, indicated that the staff were happy to be recognised and affirmed as individuals beyond their job titles, and to learn that the Rand Aid organisation valued them as domestic and service staff who make important contributions to the wellbeing of the centre’s elders.

They learnt that the Ron Smith Care Centre is not a hospital, but the residents’ home. They also learnt that wellbeing is health in body, mind and spirit and that it is important to see the whole person, not just the medical condition. They received the message that all have a role to play in bringing loving care, kindness, respect, meaning, joy, fun and simple pleasures into the lives of all who live and work in the care centre community.

Zabeth Zühlsdorff, GM Services and Advanced Division, said in her address to the staff that in the 116-year-old history of Rand Aid, one of the most important highlights in the growth of the organisation, has been the adoption of the Eden Alternative philosophy.

“Eden has revolutionised our care centre. It has changed from an institution to a home where people receive tender loving care during their last years when they need help, assistance and nursing care. Eden has shown us how important it is to see care through the eyes of a resident and to understand the person we care for.

“It also teaches and reminds us every day to treat each person, resident and staff alike, with respect, dignity and love. The housekeeping, kitchen, maintenance and gardening staff all have a huge role to play in creating a caring environment – a place that residents want to call ‘home’.  How you treat residents, how you interact with them, and how well you do your job is so very important in reaching our Eden goals.”

Ron Smith Care Centre staff were each presented with a Certificate of Achievement, followed by an ice-cream party to celebrate the learning, connection and fun that was experienced in the Open Hearts Open Minds Eden training. 

The staff members who underwent the Open Hearts Open Minds Eden training.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Open Hearts Open Minds Staff Training

On October 23, one shift of staff from Housekeeping, Kitchen and OT, gathered together for Eden training, facilitated by Debbie Christen, Manager: Recreational Programmes.

They spent the day opening up their minds and learning to see and understand the Eden Alternative philosophy with their hearts.
The training consisted of a number of activities, information-giving and feedback sessions designed to allow staff to get to know each other better, build relationships, and to understand the importance of learning to see the whole person, not just the illness or medical condition.

In essence, they learnt ways to treat Elders with understanding, care and respect and how to contribute to the well-being of everyone in the care centre community.

Some of the staff feedback: I appreciated that this training was cheerful and fun and that we were given time to express our feelings and to connect with each other.
 We need to treat our residents with patience, kindness, love, care and respect and we should all help them to feel at home. We need to bring joy to them everyday!

The Rand Aid team that recently underwent Eden Alternative training, with Debbie Christen, Rand Aid Manager: Recreational Programmes.