Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Dances delight in Heritage Day

 Rand Aid’s Ron Smith Care Centre celebrated Heritage Day on September 23 with a display of the nation’s many traditional dances.

 Instead of one get-together, celebrations took place on all the wings to prevent overcrowding. Staff and residents were treated to fresh strawberries and ice cream and a special goodie pack filled with mango juice, smoked beef or cheese and onion crisps, jelly babies, chocolate, hand lotion and shower gel.

 The rest of the day saw traditional dancing from the Venda, Tsonga, Zulu, Xhosa and Pedi tribes, much to the delight of the residents.  As always, it was a glorious sight to see staff representing the diversity of South Africa, coming together in a beautiful melange of music, dance and colourful costumes.


Thili Sibiya.


Lucia Nkuna, Cleo Makhanya and Alice Molepo.


Louise Newman and Knowledge Ngobeni.

 More photos from the day:


Friday, 18 September 2020

Cool cats all glammed up

No one is sure if Jill Jones or Annie-Cat was the copy-cat but on September 15, they both looked like the cat that got the cream after enjoying separate pamper sessions.

The ladies emerged with Cheshire Cat grins as they showed off their manicured nails and claws and groomed hair and fur.

After seeing the pair in all their splendour, no one at Rand Aid’s Ron Smith Care Centre in Lyndhurst – where both Jill and her beloved Annie live, would dream of even thinking ‘Look what the cat dragged in’.

Jill had her nails done by care worker Busi Nxumalo, while Jolly Dog Spa came to the care centre to groom Annie, who purred contentedly as she was brushed and fussed over.

“Normally, when I brush Annie, she only tolerates it for a few minutes and then growls and runs away!” says Jill, who was delighted that Annie enjoyed her spa session.

Jill has been a RSCC resident for five years and ever since she moved in, she had wanted a cat.         

Annie was a rescue cat, who used to live in the storeroom of a bottle store. She was rescued by a member of the community and when management of the care centre found out that the cat needed a home, they immediately thought of Jill, who they knew had hankered after a feline friend for years.

Jill was overjoyed when approached by management and asked if she would like to adopt the stray.

Part of the Eden Alternative philosophy, which RSCC follows, is that residents should have the opportunity to enjoy close relationships and connections with animals.

The pair have a very close bond and Jill has always said what a blessing Annie-Cat is to her. “We are family!”


Jill and Annie together again after each enjoying a relaxing spa session.

Jill Jones thrilled with the manicure given by care worker Busi Nxumalo.


Annie enjoying her pedicure!


Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Care centre takes up Jerusalema dance challenge

 Rand Aid’s Ron Smith Care Centre (RSCC) in Lyndhurst has experienced a challenging time over the past few months.

Even though its elderly frail residents have handled the restrictions necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic with grace, Matron Avril Maltman says that all care centre staff have found themselves working in stressful times and under extreme pressure.

Nevertheless, they are totally dedicated to giving wonderful, loving care to the residents and have worked tirelessly to curb the spread of infections and to keep everyone’s spirits up.

Local artist Master KG’s Jerusalema has become a global sensation and videos of people dancing to the hit are spreading positivity far and wide.

When Enrolled Nursing Auxiliary Evelyn Shilubane, who works on the River Lodge 3 residential wing of the care centre, first found out about the Jerusalema dance, she thought that RSCC should take up the challenge and promoted the idea to her colleagues. Charge Professional Nurse Leanie Bessinger then spread the idea to the staff of the five other wings and dance practices were set up with Debbie Christen, Recreational Manager, teaching the choreography to various groups.

Debbie comments: “Staff from all departments – nursing, housekeeping, kitchen, maintenance, admin and the coffee shop – were encouraged to join in, making this dance challenge a fun and spirit-filled team building exercise, which really brought the whole care centre community together in such a joyous way. In a sense, this was also a chance to relieve some of the stresses of the lockdown period and to celebrate survival of COVID-19.”

Greg Fine, the husband of Rand Aid’s in-house doctor, Dr Carmella Mielke, very kindly assisted with video footage using his drone, and Sister Leanie edited and put together some 59 video clips from staff to create the final version. She says: “Unity and light relief are much needed in the world right now and I want to put out the challenge to other care centres to join the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge.”

When Zabeth Zühlsdorff, Rand Aid General Manager Advance Division, saw the video, she was blown away and responded: “I have watched it three times already!   Many thanks to everyone who organised, participated and supported this fantastic initiative. You are an awesome team and I am privileged to work with each and every one of you.”

Families on the various WhatsApp groups started by the care centre to enable enhanced communication with the families of residents, also commented favourably:

 Thank you to all. It brought tears to my eyes – it was so beautiful! What wonderful, caring ladies and gents you all are! Awesome! Brilliant! 

 A lovely, happy video. Not only are the staff totally dedicated, but are also wonderful dancers!

 What a wonderful show of togetherness!

Watch the video -

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Ron Smith Care Centre’s 103-year-old coronavirus survivor

103-year-old Kitty Venn after recovering from the coronavirus.

After 14 days in isolation, 103-year-old coronavirus survivor Kitty Venn is back in her pretty room at Ron Smith Care Centre in Lyndhurst just outside of Johannesburg.

“It is exceptionally remarkable that someone of her age has survived a pandemic that has ravaged old ages homes throughout the world,” says Dr Christina Eleftheriades, who cared for the centenarian during her time in the care centre’s isolation facility.

Dr Eleftheriades is one of two in-house doctors with practices at the Rand Aid Association-run care centre. She and colleague Dr Carmella Mielke have worked tirelessly with Ron Smith Care Centre’s dedicated nursing team to ensure Kitty and other aged residents who contracted the virus received professional yet loving care.

Kitty’s daughter Carol Cunningham was in Australia when South Africa went into lockdown and is sheltering there until the nation’s borders re-open. The news of her mom’s illness left Carol feeling extremely anxious, given the distance separating them.

“Fortunately, the care centre’s Sr Leanie Bessinger contacted us daily to report on Mom’s condition, which gave us incredible peace of mind,” says Carol.

“Huge thanks must go to Dr Mielke, Dr Eleftheriades and Sr Bessinger and her team who tenderly nursed my mom though this awful virus,” says Carol. “They made her comfortable, administered her oxygen and for 24/7, nursed her back to health.

“She has now returned to her room at the Lakeside wing of the care centre, much to the delight of the staff there. Her carer, Elizabeth Peterson, quickly set to work brushing and styling Mom’s hair and putting lipstick, eye shadow, earrings and a necklace on for her return photo.

“Mom has always been a special lady with a heart of gold. She never complains, is kind and loving, generous and compassionate and never demands anything! She always said: ‘If you don't have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything’.”

Sr Bessinger adds that Kitty remained her usual happy self while in isolation. “On day three, she started to improve and asked for tea with milk. When we did our rounds, she always gave us a big smile.”

Kitty was born Doreen Ruby Mole in Swakopmund, South West Africa, on 5 April, 1917. She grew up in Pretoria where her father was a magistrate. At the end of World War II, she married Oliver Venn, an air force pilot, and they raised their four children in Sandringham.

“Mom has 18 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren who love her as much as she loves them,” says Carol. “Elphin Lodge – the retirement village where Ron Smith Care Centre is based – was her happy home for over 15 years until she moved into the care centre four years ago.

“She supported all the wonderful social events at Elphin Lodge, frequented the popular on-site Elphino’s coffee shop and, of course, played her bridge at least twice a week. Mom was always an active lady and played tennis until she was 89.

“Her move to the care centre was a blessing and although she was sad to give up her cottage, she adapted easily into her lovely room, which opens out onto the garden. She has made new friends and her friends from the cottages have one by one joined her at Lakeside.”

For more information, call Ron Smith Care Centre at 010 534 6595

Kitty Venn, who played tennis until she was 89, is an 103-year-old coronavirus survivor from Rand Aid’s Ron Smith Care Centre.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Everyday COVID-19 heroes receive lovely surprise

All 300 of Ron Smith Care Centre’s residents and staff were treated to a lovely surprise when they were each presented with a Lindt chocolate bunny, compliments of friends of Rand Aid. 

Rae Hurwitz was a long-time resident of Elphin Lodge and Ron Smith Care Centre, where she passed away last year. In memory of Rae, her family donated the chocolate treats, which brought happy smiles and joy to residents and staff alike. 

“Chocolate is always a winner, especially during this extended lockdown when little treats go a long way to lift spirits and to acknowledge the courage, hard work and dedication of care centre staff,” says Debbie Christen, Rand Aid’s Recreational Programmes Manager.

Some of the housekeeping and kitchen staff delighted to receive their gift.

Betty Furman of Tarentaal, who received recuperative care at Ron Smith.

Josephine Kew with her chocolate bunny.

Sylvia Lasarow.

Beryl Backhouse.

 Johannes Mojela accepts the chocolate treats on behalf of the Security team.

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Thank you letter to Ron Smith Care Centre

To the amazing Rand Aid team
On 20 June, our Mom Jill sent us a worrying ‘goodbye’. While we know she is older and has underlying conditions, it was a shock.
While we were grateful that this was not COVID-19, it was nonetheless frightening and the distance made it feel less within our control.

During the weekend, Staff Nurse Christina, supported by Dr Carmella Mielke and the rest of the team nursed Jill back from a very poorly situation. SN Christina was kind when I called and reassured me.
Over the next few weeks, Jill gained strength and improved.
Thank you all for your dedication and committed nursing. It is very appreciated and valued.With thanks and warm regards
Lynley, Carolyn and our families
PS - Please share with the Woodlands team.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Ron Smith Care Centre residents receive bags of love

Rand Aid’s Ron Smith Care Centre recently arranged for care packages to be sent by family members to their loved ones to in some small way fill the gap left by the no-visitor lockdown regulation.

“The families bought carefully selected goodies to warm their loved one’s heart,” says social worker Debbie Beech.

“With the lockdown being indefinite, we brainstormed ideas about connecting families with their loved ones without actual contact. Hence the idea of sending individualised care packs or gifts for their loved ones to let them know they are missing them and thinking of them.

“The families responded really positively and gifts have ranged from a tin of condensed milk to teddies and chocolates. The gifts are accompanied by a letter or card or photos of the family.

“We also had a couple of donations of extra items for residents with no family so we could put something together for them,” says Debbie.

Resident Irene Green after receiving her goodie bag.

Syd Philips reads the letter sent to him in the care package that was carefully put together by his family.

This beautiful scarf was among the treats in Ronel Gray’s gift bag.