Durban — An old-age home servicing the community of Greater Edendale and Imbali Township for more than seven decades faces closure because of a combination of rising costs and the difficulty of raising revenue.
Established in 1946, and located a few metres from Edendale Hospital, Emseni Old Age Home has provided care to frail patients over the decades, relying on the government and local businesses to stay afloat.
Speaking to the Independent on Saturday this week, chairperson Joyce Mseleku said they faced the prospect of shutting the doors within months if they did not get support.
“We have tried a number of fund-raising initiatives but there has just been a very lukewarm response. The thing is, there is such a need for a facility like this in the area, considering the size of the Edendale and Imbali Township community. We have turned down applications. Now from the look of things we will have to close,” she said.
Over the past months the facility has also battled to pay its utility bills.
“Despite the fact that the people cared for in the facility are old and one would think there would be some form of waiver from the municipality for services such as water and electricity, there is not. So running the facility is really a battle for survival,” she added.
According to Mseleku, the support from the Department of Social Development in the form of an old age grant is not enough.
She explained that the R3 000 monthly subsidy from the department and the R2 000 allocation per resident still fell short from the R7 000 required each month to ensure that the residents received adequate care.
Pietermaritzburg and Midlands Chamber of Business chief executive officer Melanie Veness expressed shock at the news, adding that efforts should be made to ensure that the facility stayed afloat.
“It is very disturbing to hear about the desperate plight of the Edendale Home for the Aged, who to my knowledge are the only NGO of their kind in the area serving the needs of the elderly. It is essential that as a society we care for our aged,” said Veness.
She cited the important role that many structures should play in guarding the survival of the facility, including the government, civil society and businesses.
“The Department of Social Development has a critical role to play in ensuring the sustainability of such organisations.
“This can be supplemented by business support. I know that many of the businesses in the area do support the good work of community-based NGOs and am hoping that, through this appeal for assistance, those businesses who are able to assist further, will do so,” she said.
Msunduzi Municipality was not available for comment on whether they would consider a waiver to the home as a form of assistance.