When we started our work with the Adult Day Care centres (ADC’s) last year it was a bit of a whirlwind beginning. With pressure to get results quickly, we rushed headlong into developing a framework for centres needs analysis, were introduced at the centres and quickly figured out a plan for the year ahead, to fit in needs analysis, assessments of the beneficiaries and training for staff. Unfortunately, this rush led to some confusion early on for some of the centres about who we are as Senecio, and for both us and the centre staff about what our role is in working with them.
Having gone in with few concrete facts of what is expected of an ADC has been a challenge. There is, as far as we have been able to find out, currently no guiding policy on how an ADC should be staffed, who the beneficiaries should be and how their programmes should run. While this has been frustrating (and with the Life Esidimeni crisis in mind, more than a little concerning) it has meant that we have been able to focus on getting to know the people, explore some of the dynamics and the long-standing and emerging needs. In the absence of a set standard, we have aimed more at understanding how they have each made their centres work over time rather than measure them against a generic pattern. We have observed how each of these centres that we have begun this journey with is unique in their make-up, their people and their story. Each has had triumphs and challenges we can learn from. We have become uncomfortable with the idea of one ‘cookie-cutter shape program’ dictating how all ADC’s should run because what works in one situation won’t necessarily work in another where the people, the resources and their communities are so different (however, a set of basic principles, standards and guidelines is definitely needed).
This diversity has led us to question how to go about training for the staff within each centre. In March we began with a 2-day foundation level training which covered an introduction to disability and disability Rights, challenging behaviour and how to support the development of beneficiaries. This was a good and necessary beginning, and the training videos we made during lockdown for the centres that could not attend are now proving to be a helpful resource for all the staff to remind themselves of the information. Once-off training on its own, however, is not enough to create real or sustainable development within ADC’s.
We are now going to give ongoing support and training to these centres, tailored to each one’s unique needs to assist them in building on and putting into practice what they learnt in a way that best suits them. This will include “internal” support, such as giving input into each centre’s programs, interventions for their beneficiaries, strategies for ensuring staff wellness and effective teamwork and record-keeping, as well as “external” support, such as assisting in linking with their local services, liaising with the Department of Social Development and other stakeholders to strengthen links and bring awareness to this sector.
We are so grateful to all the staff and beneficiaries at our centres, who have given of their valuable time and shared their stories. We love partnering with you all and are excited for the journey ahead.
Written by Ruth Boshoff
Senecio Occupational Therapist