Thursday, 26 May 2016

Ron Smith Care Centre looks beyond the life lines on residents’ faces

 A person’s age represents a fine cargo of experiences and memories. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wartime Writings 1939-1944.

In acknowledging that the people who live at Rand Aid’s Ron Smith Care Centre are more than just residents needing care, but rather colourful personalities with rich histories, the ‘Who Am I’ initiative was launched last year.

‘Who Am I’ encourages residents and staff to get to know one another better by sharing their personal stories.

On Friday, May 13, the residents and staff on the River Lodge 3 wing gathered together in their lounge to hear and honour the stories of resident Lynne Russell and enrolled nursing auxiliary Nakedi Chokoe.

What made this event so magical was that Lynne’s whole family came to support her. Husband Brian and their three daughters Dale, Bev and Amanda; son in-law Tony and three of her grandchildren, Jonah, Tory and Leah, were there to listen to Lynne’s life story.

They were grateful to have their mother and grandmother’s story told and acknowledged, and to have the opportunity to remember and celebrate her personhood, with all her accomplishments and what she enjoyed and found meaningful in her life.

It was wonderful that Lynne and Nakedi could celebrate their stories together, and having the Russell family present made the event very special.
“What a truly wonderful occasion this was!” says Brian. “I can’t imagine that anyone there did not enjoy it to the full. I haven’t seen Lynne so happy since she moved to River Lodge Three. This event demonstrated that even in the frailties of growing old, one can still have enjoyment with all one’s friends that surround one each day. Having Nakedi sharing the occasion made it just that much more fun!” 

Ron Smith Care Centre resident Lynne Russell and enrolled nursing auxiliary Nakedi Chokoe share a dance.

Lynne Russell with her loved ones and enrolled nursing auxiliary Nakedi Chokoe.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Fluffy balls of cuteness enchant care centre residents

Ron Smith Care Centre is a safe haven not just for people, but for a few pet birds and cats, a host of aquatic birds who visit the village dam and geese, ducks and chickens. On May 12, some recently hatched chicks were brought into the care centre to the delight of those residents who battle to make the journey to the chicken enclosure. Here, Rosalind Benjamin ‘oohs’ over a fluffy, yellow chick. With her is volunteer Marisa Sabato.

Marisa Sabato (volunteer/manicurist) with day care visitor Beulah Leor-Lever.

Eleanor Motsepe is introduced to a chick by volunteer Marisa Sabato.

Hello little fellow, says Heather Zipp. Making the introduction is volunteer Marisa Sabato.

Veteran teacher turns 95

Joan Bellow, a resident of Ron Smith Care Centre, turned 95 on May 9, 2016.

Hers has been a rich life of imparting knowledge to generations of children. She and late husband Phil – who met when they were students at Rhodes – worked for decades in education, both in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

The only girl of five children, Joan was born in Pretoria. As a married woman, she lived in many parts of Zimbabwe and South Africa – wherever worthwhile teaching or school inspector posts piqued her and Phil’s interest.

After retiring, they worked for a decade helping pre-schoolers in an informal settlement in Gonubie near East London, giving structure to the little ones’ otherwise aimless days and ensuring that they were fed and safe while their parents were at work.

They were good friends of Ian Smith, the former Prime Minister of then-Rhodesia. Joan says he was a good man who did not forget his friends when he became a successful politician. “He had no airs or graces but was simply a good man who took some wrong turns.”

Joan and Phil lived in Zimbabwe from 1955 until 1977 when they returned to South Africa. Their next long-term home was Gonubie, just outside of East London, where they stayed for 20 years.

They had three children - Anne, Louise and John.

 Joan Bellew – a very youthful 95 year old.

After 59 years of marriage, Phil passed away and after staying on in their Gonubie cottage for another six years, Joan relocated to Gauteng to be closer to her son.

“It is hard to think that God still wants me here, perhaps to do some good work? I shall try my best to be a good person, as an example to my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren,” says Joan.

Her birthday was celebrated at a well-attended party, with family and friends – many of whom are fellow Ron Smith Care Centre residents, wishing the bright-eyed birthday girl well.
Joan’s birthday co-incided with the care centre’s Sister Tando Ncube’s birthday and she was present to share in the fun.

“My wonderful daughter in-law Heather brought cakes, savouries and drinks – unfortunately, no champagne! – and I was so pleased that so many people came to wish me happy birthday, including my driver, Lucas Mosoma, who has been with me for seven years.”

 Birthday girl Joan Bellew (95) with her driver Lucas Mosoma and daughter-in-law Heather.

Norah Tshiva, Elizabeth Peterson, Jennifer Sigida and Angie Nkomo.

 Kitty Venn (age 97), Tsakani Mathebula, and Jane Hart-Davis (age 95).

Jill Jones and Sue Beattie.

New way of doing things for care centre managers

Person-directed care is not just a new buzzword in long-term care. It stems from the world-wide realisation that care facilities for elders are not hospitals and that the management of the medical conditions related to ageing is not enough to promote the wellbeing of residents. 

As the medical model has been followed for so long, a culture change is required to make care facilities a better place for elders to be – to turn them into homes where elders want to be, families enjoy visiting and staff enjoy doing the work they love. Such a culture change requires new ways of thinking about long-term care, new values, new attitudes and new ways of doing things in order to move from ‘institution’ to warm, loving and caring ‘home’.
Eleven staff members of Rand Aid Association were fortunate to participate in a two-day coaching workshop by international Eden educator and mentor Carol Ende. Carol is a former CEO of the Eden Alternative in America and currently works across the globe as a consultant and educator for culture change associated with elderhood.

The workshop was arranged by Eden South Africa and targeted local leaders committed to implementing person-directed care in South Africa. Three workshops were held, in the Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. The Gauteng workshop took place on April 19 and 20, 2016, at Rand Aid’s Inyoni Creek Clubhouse – a most appropriate physical setting in line with Eden values of warmth and comfort!

The workshop focused on teaching new skills and techniques to build relationships between staff and residents, to promote team work between all care partners and to create a sense of community in our care centres. It was practical and interactive, using examples from everyday working life to practise skills, solve problems and develop a better understanding of the needs and abilities of elders.

“Carol emphasised that the transformation towards person-directed care is not a programme, it is an ongoing journey that requires conscious leadership ensuring all care partners become and remain involved and committed towards creating a better life for our elders,” says Rand Aid’s Zabeth Zühlsdorff, GM Services and Advance Division.

Helen Petrie, the Manager of Elphin Complex, which includes the Ron Smith Care Centre, said that the workshop made the leadership role required of her as a team leader easy to understand. “The logic required to lead culture change in our home was explained to us so clearly that we are all better armed for the task ahead,” she said.

Sylvia Birkhead - senior occupational therapist at Rand Aid, Bianca Richards – occupational therapist at Rand Aid, Sr Tando Ncube - the charge sister on Lakeside at Ron Smith Care Centre, and Charlene van Zyl – ex-Rand Aid occupational therapist who joined the training while on a visit to South Africa.

Sacred sighting

Residents of Elphin Lodge and Ron Smith Care Centre are privileged to enjoy a prolific number of feathered visitors who frequent the dam of the Rand Aid village and enjoy its many established gardens and trees. On May 12, this flock of Sacred Ibis was enjoyed by many a resident who took up vigil on the benches that dot the bank of the dam.

Super efficient Auriel proves that 80 is the new 60

Auriel Wittert is a receptionist whose professionalism strikes the right chord with visitors to Elphin Lodge Complex. She is well groomed, bright eyed, attentive and beautifully spoken. She also turned 80 on April 19.

Auriel is among a new breed of people who might be senior citizens according to traditionally accepted definitions, but who certainly are not elderly. Working a demanding, busy full day, she says what she most loves about her job is interacting with people.

Once a resident herself of Elphin Lodge retirement village, she was working in Linbro Park and found the commute to work too tedious during the Gautrain’s construction. “It took one-and-a-half hours to drive 12kms.”

With her late husband then being cared for at Ron Smith Care Centre on the grounds of Elphin Lodge, getting home in time to visit him was becoming increasingly difficult. Then a snippet in the village’s weekly bulletin caught her eye. An assistant was sought to work in the village shop.

She applied but did not get the job. What she was offered instead, was a part-time receptionist position. “We felt that Auriel would be better utilised at our reception and that has proved true. Auriel is incredibly efficient and feisty. She is a most presentable lady who firmly manages the reception with colleague Tanya Switala. Auriel is an asset to our village,” says Helen Petrie, Elphin Lodge Complex Manager.

Auriel started in 2009, and when the full-time receptionist retired five years ago, she was promoted and started working a full day.

Auriel Wittert mans her post with unwavering professionalism.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Betty bright as ever at 100

Independent. Positive. Inspirational. That is how 100-year-old Betty Haughton is often described by friends and loved ones.

A happy resident of Rand Aid’s Ron Smith Care Centre, Betty celebrated her centenary on April 19. A tea party was held on the Saturday before her birthday, and was attended by many family members and friends. She was presented with 100 pink roses to mark the occasion.

One of Betty’s fondest memories is flying from England to South Africa after her husband, Norman Atkins, who was a major in the army, accepted a position here with an insurance company. They had four weeks to sell everything before they left to fly south in a chartered Dakota DC-3... with a four-week-old baby in tow. Betty remembers that the journey took five days and four nights and they had to stop every four hours or so to refuel.

In seven decades that she has lived in South Africa, Betty says she has never been homesick, although she has returned three times to visit family in England.

London-born and raised Betty, who has two sons and a brood of grandchildren and great grandchildren, was the youngest of six children.

She lost her first husband, Norman, in 1993, and later married Leslie Haughton.

A keen bowls and bridge player in her younger days, Betty now attends occupational therapy at the care centre, enjoying a range of arts and crafts that keep her mind and fingers nimble.

“She the custodian of family tales and will often correct me when I get my facts wrong,” shares niece Sheila Tebbit, remembering that when she attended St Mary’s, her aunt was always at school events to support her and her widowed mother.

“She worked for many years as secretary of Linksfield Primary School,” says Sheila, “and when I recall her home, I think of classical music and encyclopaedias.”

Chinese lunch on the lawns of care centre

One day last year, some of the residents from Ron Smith Care Centre’s Cedar Park wing were participating in one of their ‘Who Am I ---Get to know me’ chat sessions.  The topic of ‘favourite foods’, a very popular subject, came up for discussion, and it was discovered that quite a few people loved Chinese food!

The conversation continued... “What specific Chinese dishes did they enjoy?” They responded: “Sweet and sour pork, chicken with cashew nuts, beef chow mein.” The list grew and grew, as each resident remembered (and salivated over) what they used to order and enjoy, when they went out for Chinese food or ordered takeaway.
The more everyone talked, the hungrier they got, and it was decided to host a Chinese lunch.

The morning of Saturday, April 23, dawned and staff and volunteers of the Rand Aid care centre got busy setting up for the lunch. Chinese music and golden oldie tunes played in the background and colourful Chinese lanterns and fans that the residents and volunteers had made in OT were strung up around the gazebos. Volunteer Eve Higgs provided lovely flowers for the tables, which were set and readied for the 118 guests (from all six wings of the Ron Smith Care Centre).
Then, the much-anticipated Chinese food arrived. Some of the residents even showed proficiency at using their chopsticks, while others good naturedly tried using, with a giggle or two, the unwieldy sticks.  Aside from the food that each resident, family member, staff and volunteer had ordered for him/herself, there were also spring rolls, bowties and ice cream on offer. And finally, to round off the delicious lunch, a nice cup of fragrant Jasmine tea! This was such a wonderful day of family, friends, food and fellowship.

Feedback from residents

Resident Jill Jones expressed grateful thanks for a wonderful Chinese lunch. “We were all so appreciative of the tremendous amount of thought, attention to detail, organisation and hard work which went into making this event so successful.” 

Frank and Karen Mitchell said it was a lovely lunch and a great day, and all the Cedar Park residents (whose fondness for Chinese food set the lunch in motion) signed a thank you card saying, “It was a wonderful outing –we loved it!  The food, décor, everything was all so good.” 

Lakeside resident Peter Barker summed it all up by saying, “I have just got back to my room after a happy experience eating Chinese grub! I must express my thanks before I do anything else. The time and trouble given by so many people to put meaning into so many lives is beyond praise.”

Ria van der Westhuizen (right) says: “What is joy? Sharing a delicious Chinese meal with my sister, Val!” (left).

A fun time was had by all...

And making the lanterns beforehand was just as much fun ...

Lilian Christie holds up a colourful lantern.

Morris Kahn and caregiver Rodney Baloyi.

Our beautiful lanterns.

 The volunteers who helped make the lanterns: Jennipher Chibeka, Patricia Oosthuizen, Carlynn Hose, Jackie Erasmus, Noelene Puntis and Carroll Prigge. 

Memories of Good Times and Vintage Cars

Ninety-seven-year-old Ron Smith Care Centre resident Bunny Marks still has a taste for adventure.
Denise Stewart, who volunteers at the Rand Aid-run care centre, says she and Bunny got talking one day about what he enjoyed most in his colourful life. “This led him to show me all the lovely car trophies and pictures of veteran cars which he had restored, including Buicks, Pontiacs and MBGs. The walls of his room at the care centre told the story of these cars which are so close to his heart, and about which he is so passionate,” says Denise.  “I mentioned the Piston Ring Club which meets every month in Modderfontein, only to discover that he was a long-standing member.”
On hearing this news, she made a promise to herself that she would take Bunny to a club meeting so that he could rekindle all his memories of this particular passion of his. “The day after his 97th birthday, which was on April 17, his daughter Maureen, her friend, and my husband Dave and I surprised Bunny with an outing and visit to the ‘Ford Day’ at the Piston Ring Club. There, we were able to view the many beautifully restored vintage and veteran cars on display,” says Denise.
Bunny had the opportunity to meet up with some of his old acquaintances, and they spent time chatting about the old days and all the happy times they had, restoring all these wonderful vehicles of the past. He so enjoyed the day, talking to his friends and sharing their enthusiasm and love for vintage cars. 
“What an amazing outing for us all; we made a promise that we would return soon to remember and re-capture the past in all its glory,” says Denise.

Bunny Marks on his 97th birthday.