Community-based rehabilitation services change lives

Nov 27, 2023

Ikamva Labantu expanded its Older Persons Programme to include community-based rehabilitation services. Many older people in the townships have treatable impairments and disabilities, but due to limited services and referrals or lengthy waiting periods for mobility devices, they are not able to lead full and independent lives, with many being frail and home-bound. With inadequate rehabilitation services for older people, they develop secondary impairments or disabilities, which have a negative impact on their day-to-day lives.

There is also an issue of accessible transport, especially for older people with mobility impairments. These older people require transport to and from their appointments in community health centres or hospitals to access vital rehabilitation services with Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists – many of whom do not do community outreach and home visits to older people. Due to this, older people are often unable to attend their appointments.

Ikamva Labantu recruited an Occupational Therapist to conduct assessments on the rehabilitation requirements of elderly individuals who receive home-based care through Ikamva Labantu. The OT works closely alongside family members and trains community based workers to identify needs, problem solve and develop personalised rehabilitation plans, as well as empowering overwhelmed family members with the skills to take an active role to assist their relatives.

“Ikamva Labantu has filled a gap by providing a community-based rehabilitation service that speaks to seniors who have been left to recover by themselves at home without any form of rehabilitation or who have been asked to wait another year for an essential mobility device. The overall aim is that seniors are not seen as burdens within their families, but important members and elders within their communities who deserve dignity and respect,” says Siphokazi Sompeta, Ikamva Labantu’s Occupational Therapist.

Recently donated, essential assistive devices have been distributed to frail home-based seniors. The main goal of assistive devices is to maintain or improve an individual’s functioning and independence, thereby promoting their well-being. These devices include: wheelchairs, walkers and walking frames, crutches, commodes, mattresses, urinary bottles and built-up spoons. These devices allow older people to engage in basic activities of daily living independently or with minimal assistance from family members, such as having mobility around the house, eating and going to the toilet, allowing them freedom and dignity. This decreases their need for maximum assistance or reliance on family members.

The recipients have a range of impairment issues which impacts their mobility and independence, such as arthritis, Parkinson’s Disease, cataracts, hearing impairments, amputations and have suffered strokes leaving them weak and having difficulty walking. Some of these older people live in informal settlements often with toilets outside, which means using buckets or relying on the assistance of others as they cannot move around by themselves.

Senior Mekuto received a walking frame and shares the difference this will make: “Now I can go and put on water in a pot to boil. You have given me freedom and independence. Ikamva Labantu thanks to your friends, I can now make my own cup of coffee or tea whenever I want to.”

Senior Qotoyi now has a Rollator walker and expresses gratitude: “It gets lonely at home when I have not attended the Senior Club, and now I can attend for the whole week, and be with my friends I love. I love Ikamva Labantu and the people who have sponsored this precious ‘Uber’ of mine.”