Innovative care for the elderly

At St Rosehaven Sanctuary doing some activities are, in the back from left, Tracy-Ann Ockhuis, founder and CEO; Sylvester Ockhuis, coordinator; Esther Nzuwa, voluntary carer; Mervyn Norman, a beneficiary; and Nomphelo Ntonga, voluntary carer. In front from the left, are Christina Germishuys, a beneficiary, and Brigid Hess another beneficiary.

A young couple from Macassar has come up with what they believe to be an innovative model in the care for older persons in Somerset West.

Tracy-Ann Ockhuis, a qualified caregiver, and her husband, Sylvester, earlier this year opened the first elderly daycare facility and service centre for local seniors and frail adults.

The St Rosehaven Sanctuary, a non-profit organisation, officially opened on Monday January 17. Currently based at the Rotary Club in Lourensford Road, Somerset West, their vision is clear —to provide specialist daycare services to seniors in need.

“We want to provide seniors with a home away from home, a peaceful sanctuary where they are well taken care of,” says Ms Ockhuis, founder and CEO.

Caregivers or family members can sign their loved ones up for a monthly subscription and utilise the daycare services either for a full day, a few hours a day, or five days a week.

The daycare was opened after the couple realised that there is a great need for elderly day care in their communities. Ms Ockhuis has first-hand experience of the challenges faced when families need to care for an elderly relative, and an old age home is not an option.

“After my grandmother, Rose, suffered a severe stroke and became fully dependent on my mother, Ursula Daniels, who was working at the time, my mom left her job to care for her, but with that came financial struggles

“I could see how this all affected my mom, but at that time there were no other options as my grandmother hated the idea of being put in a home.”

Regardless of the financial stress Ms Ockhuis loved the last days spent with her grandmother. This later led to her working at the Sencit Resthaven Old Age Home in Strand in 2019.

Here she developed a deep affection for the residents. “I grew this love for them and became really close to some of the seniors in the home.

“My love for the seniors and my childhood dream of helping and serving others just all came together like a puzzle and on Monday June 7, I woke up the morning and decided to start my non-profit.”

“Initially it was supposed to be an old age home, but then I thought about a lot of older people who don’t want to stay in a home like mamma, or caregivers who do not want to let go of their parents. I knew there were old age homes, but no daycares.”

Mr Ockhuis, who comes from a marketing background, shares his wife’s vision for St Rosehaven Sanctuary.

“Unfortunately, when your mother, father or relative gets old, it adds a lot of pressure on you and because you don’t have any other option you put them in an old age home. Sometimes the homes are overcrowded or there is not that individual attention.

“So here we want to give people the needed attention. We ensure that they are not only provided with stimulating activities but feel loved and appreciated, that’s a very important part of our mission and vision,” he adds.

Seniors are entertained with daily activities such as puzzles and board games, positive life orientation exercises and recreational activities like gardening.

“Our beneficiaries, (we don’t like to call them our old people) are very attached to us, and we are a very closely knit group,” says Ms Ockhuis.

The NPO provides two meals during the day, and monthly nail care and foot massages. All the nursing staff are volunteers.

Ms Ockhuis adds: “I think what makes it different is we see it from the caregiver’s perspective in that we want to create opportunities for them to go and live their life, to take care of their kids or to work and live a healthy balanced life, while their parents are taken care of here. We want to make their lives better.”

Their aspirations are to branch out and open smaller daycare service centres locally and across the Cape.

They are so grateful to the Somerset West Rotary Club for the use of their premises. Their only challenge is for a transport service to assist the elderly who are without any means to get to the center.

“People from Sir Lowry’s Pass, Gordon’s Bay and Strand are interested in using our service, but cannot get to us because of a lack of transport.”

St Rosehaven Sanctuary is open on Mondays to Fridays from 7am to 5pm. For more information people can contact Tracy-Ann on 068 556 4696 or visit their Facebook page.

The St Rosehaven team from the left, are Sylvester Ockhuis, coordinator; Tracy-Ann Ockhuis, founder and CEO and voluntary carer Esther Nzuwa.