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Taking care of the elderly for you

DUMISANI NCUBE
Swimming against the tide, the countryís first black-owned adult day care centre says it is recording growing interest from Batswana, who have traditionally balked at the idea of sending their elders to old peopleís homes. Mmegi Correspondent, DUMISANI NCUBE reports

Chawa Enyatseng, an expert in home-based care, has noted a curious trend.  The clientele who utilise her There4U adult day care centre in Extension 12 are becoming more diverse. Most of the clients who have walked through the doors since its establishment in 2014 have been whites or Asians.  Blacks on the other hand, have been a rarity.

Culturally, Batswana are not known for taking their elders to hospices, retirement villages, old age people’s homes or ‘adult day care centre’.  The family unit takes care of its elders and in many cases, they retire to the cattle post and village, visited regularly by their grandchildren.

Placing one’s elders in an adult day care centre or retirement village is something many view as taboo, a sure invitation for the fury of the ancestors and a cultural ‘no no’.

There4U, however is no retirement village.  It provides medical services such as blood pressure and blood sugar monitoring, supervision of medication, massage, education and counselling for patients. Children can drop off their elders at the facility in Extension 12 for the day and pick them up later.  Or There4U can make house calls with basic home and nursing care, through its service providers and volunteers.

Whether at the facility or at home, the elderly enjoy sharing the Bible, grooming, social activities such as craftmaking and gardening, field trips and games as well as music therapy, relaxation techniques and others.

The 55-year-old worked as a nurse, midwife, home-based care and in the palliative care industry for more than 25 years.  Prior to establishing There4U, Enyatseng worked at different health institutions such as Princess Marina, Life Gaborone Private Hospital (GPH) and Holy Cross Hospice, which was the first institution in the country to practice home-based care.

“It is difficult for most people in the black community to accept and adapt to the practice of taking their elderly relatives to day care centre institutions as they have various beliefs obtained from superstitious, religious beliefs and assumptions,” she said. “When I started I thought it was going to be difficult to have black clients due to the various beliefs they have, but the statistics show increasing numbers.  “Gone are those days when black people were unwilling to bring their parents to such facilities, but generally most of the clients are Asians and whites.” According to Enyatseng, adult day care centres play a critical role in helping families take care

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of elderly family members, as they take them through different phases such as counselling, therapy, socialisation and monitoring them.

“You see as one gets old they tend to face certain difficulties and that is why we usually come across elders that talk to themselves.

“Society has made this look like a normal thing, while others say they have been bewitched, but the truth is that elders need more attention and extra care as they would have reached another phase in their lives.”

During her career in the various institutes, Enyatseng noticed a huge gap that was missing in taking care of elders.

“I noticed that they were not being loved, given much attention and socialised in the correct manner.  We tend to think that when they have been fed, bathed and given their medication, they are now sorted, which is wrong,” she emphasised.

Enyatseng said as elders grow older they go through an emotional and depression condition, which needs them to be well attended to and monitored as it can become serious if not attended.  “As they grow older that is when they need more attention and socialisation.  We usually blame our maids when we get home and find out that our parents have not yet taken their medication.“However, it is not the maid’s duty to monitor such at the end of the day.”

Enyatseng gave an example stating that when one is staying with an old parent they may have a routine where they go to work and leave the parent with a maid who is also busy cleaning the house. This in turn, results in the parent not being attended to and they tend to keep quiet even when they need something because they do not want to ‘bother people’.

Since establishment, Enyatseng has worked with a number of families who have brought forward their elderly relatives for assistance, and on other occasions she and her team assist their clients in the comfort of their own homes.

Enyatseng’s team of qualified health care assistants take clients through various activities such as monitoring medical conditions, supervising diet, educating the elderly on health care issues and relaxation therapy.

“We are not replacing the family system, we are just there to help to support and assist them take care of the elderly family members.”

When they go for trips, some of her clients leave their elderly relatives under the guidance of Enyatseng and her team.



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