Disabled care home residents face uncertain future as social development department orders relocation

Nearly half of the residents of a home for disabled people in Mpumalanga are at risk of being relocated by the Ministry of Social Development.

  • Nearly half of the residents of a home for the disabled face an uncertain future.
  • The ministry said those subsidized by the government should move to other homes, stay with their families or return to society.
  • The home said those affected would be traumatized because the facility was the only home they had known for years.

A total of 36 residents of Sunfield Home Fortuna in Balfour, a home for the disabled, are on the verge of seeing their already fragile lives destroyed, if the Mpumalanga Department of Social Development has its way.

The department wants to force Sunfield, which was established in 1991 and currently cares for 67 residents — all mentally and/or physically disabled — to relocate at least 36 of what it calls “low-income residents.”

The department has already issued instructions to its offices in the Balfour area that all undereconomic Sunfield residents must move to other similar homes, family members or re-enter society by the end of September 2022. .

“To suddenly move these residents will be inhumane and will be an extremely traumatic experience. This will have a very negative impact on their mental and physical well-being,” said Brenda Gouws, the director of the home.

Gouws said:

Changing them from one room to another is sometimes traumatic, let alone relocating them to another place of residence.

Sunfield’s current financial situation, like that of most other government-supported organizations such as nursing homes and special needs facilities, is in dire straits.

Sunfield has 36 residents who receive a monthly subsidy from the department of around R1,900 per person. She is paid quarterly.

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The 67 residents receive a monthly pension from the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA).

However, the remaining 31 residents, who are not subsidized by the government, are considered “private” residents.

“The financial cost to house a private resident is R7,000 per month. This cost is borne by the families,” Gouws said.

The department’s sudden decision to “relocate” the 36 “state-sponsored” residents came after Sunfield’s management and board requested additional financial support for this group of people, to help support their needs. basic needs.

Gouws said:

The current grant received from the Department of Social Development has been the same for 14 years.

“Taking into consideration the increase in inflation, that leaves the institution with a big challenge because the grant is not enough to meet the basic needs of these residents,” Gouws said.

“Therefore, the institution is using all possible means to raise additional funds to properly care for these residents.

“What is totally unfair is that at least two homes within a 50km radius of Sunfield are receiving, respectively, double the grant and six times the amount we receive, to care for their residents.”

There were no responses to questions for comment sent to the department, as well as to Lindiwe Ntshalintshali, the MEC, at the time of publication. It will be added once received.

Joel C. Hicks