Sunday Times

Last round for KZN care centre

Province shuts facility with pub but no toilet for elderly disabled


● A centre for recovering addicts, the elderly and disabled has been shut down for selling alcohol, not complying with the needs of its residents and operating illegally.

Far Horizons, a centre for the elderly in Port Edward on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast, was closed on Monday following complaints and two visits by the provincial department of social developmen­t.

Last month the department raided the centre and found large amounts of alcohol. Other businesses were also operating at the centre, including a scrap yard, a repair shop, a recycling business and a pub.

A spokespers­on for the department, Ncumisa Ndedu, said the “place flouts all norms and standards”.

The centre, which is near the beach, advertised 24-hour care for the elderly, meals, a tranquil environmen­t and a three-week care-giving training course for R2,500.

One advert, posted three weeks ago on a free classified website, said: “For the frail, we have apartments which lead out onto large gardens, where guests who are wheelchair bound can sit in the sun, or just read a book.”

Another advert, posted this year on Gumtree, asked: “Do you have a family member who is recovering from dependency issues? We offer a step-up program [sic], based on a balanced lifestyle, balanced diet, Christian ethos, love, dignity & a safe secure environmen­t, with 24-hour carers and qualified nursing staff on duty.”

In September, the department found the centre had no licence or proof that its staff had any training. Officials also found the facility did not have proper documentat­ion for the five elderly people living there. There was no toilet for the disabled.

The department said the centre did not comply with the Older Persons Act.

The owner, Debbie Sharpe, said the centre was not a frail-care facility and did not need to register with the department.

In a letter responding to the department’s findings, she said: “The originatio­n at present does not require to comply with the Older Persons Act and document norms and standards as we rent and lease accommodat­ion. This is also not a frail-care facility … all our toilets baths and showers are on level.”

A visit to the facility before it was closed revealed a bar with bottles of alcohol on display. Sharpe told the department in the letter that the “colourful empty bottles [are] stored for a client who collects and picks them up from month to month”.

“We are an assisted-living facility. When you come here, you rent an apartment as you would in a retirement village, and if you want to have an alcoholic beverage I cannot stop you. We are not a hospice, we are not a home under the auspices of social developmen­t.”

On Monday, the department ordered the centre to close down and contact the families of those living there. If it did not, the department would move them to another facility.

A woman, who did not want to be named, said that her mother, who has dementia, had been living at the centre since May. The woman said she had her reservatio­ns about the place.

“Since my mother moved in there she has regressed severely, but there is nothing I can do about it because says she is happy there.”

 ?? Pictures: Jackie Clausen ?? Debbie Sharpe with a resident at Far Horizons, which the province has ordered to be shut down. Inset, the bar.
Pictures: Jackie Clausen Debbie Sharpe with a resident at Far Horizons, which the province has ordered to be shut down. Inset, the bar.

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