A well-deserved accolade came the way of the Hermanus Frail Care Centre (known as SOFCA) last week, in the form of a Gold Certificate of Compliance with a rare 10/10 ranking, from NGO-Advisor. This organisation, endorsed by the Department of Social Development (DSD), provides ‘a unique marketing platform for the NGO Sector to be seen by donors’.

A proud Gayle Smith, General Manager of the Hermanus Frail Care Centre, beside the new Gold Certificate of Compliance awarded by NGO-Advisor.

In the current economic climate where the sourcing of sufficient funding to carry on their work is becoming ever more difficult for the thousands of Non-Profit organisations in this country, this in itself is worth gold.

For the past 35 years SOFCA has been providing a dignified place of care for Hermanus residents who are living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, or who are so physically frail that they are no longer able to fend for themselves.  This includes those with no form of financial support other than a state pension. These are the people that society tries to forget. Many of them find it difficult to communicate, are not pretty to look at and require constant high-level care.

But for the people of Hermanus Frail Care, some of whom have been working there for a decade or more, to offer them love, care and protection to the end, is a calling. Providing high-quality, high-intensity care for 55 elderly and infirm people 24/7 does not come cheap, though, and because the building itself is no longer young, there is a constant need for maintenance and refurbishment.

Unfortunately, in the competitive world of fundraising, this kind of service often finds itself at the end of the queue. Many corporate donors prefer featuring in photo opportunities with lively, smiling children than with confused old people in wheelchairs or confined to their beds. According to 2018 DSD figures, there are over 226 950 NGOs in South Africa, all competing for a piece of the pie, many no doubt filling a serious societal need, and how does a donor with limited resources decide which to support?

Sister Hester Janeke with one of the new hospital beds purchased by SOFCA.

Well, one way is to look at the governance of the project, its compliance with legislative norms and standards and the quality and relevance of the service it provides. According to the same DSD figures, of all those thousands of NGOs, just 17% are indeed compliant. Now SOFCA has passed all the tests and received 10/10 across a wide array of categories. 

According to a proud Gayle Smith, General Manager of SOFCA, it took three weeks of hard labour to compile a fat file of the paperwork required by NGO-Advisor for its rigorous assessment process. “You can’t believe how thrilled we all are at the outcome,” she says. “It’s truly been worth all the blood, sweat and tears. I just know it’s going to make a huge difference to our fundraising success rate, especially as one of the roles NGO- Advisor plays is to link up potential beneficiaries and donors with one another.”

However, Gayle also emphasises how grateful she and her Board are for the ongoing support they continue to receive from the people of Hermanus. “Whenever we have a fundraising event like our recent Valentine’s breakfast or our Christmas in July dinner, the tickets go like hot cakes. Apart from the financial benefits, it means so much to us to be taken to the hearts of the people of Hermanus like this.”

In fact, she reports that last year’s SOFCA Christmas fundraising drive brought in R38 900 (see list of donors on this page), which enabled them to buy two brand-new hospital bed sets (each consisting of a bed with side rails, a bedside pedestal and a mattress, costing R15 000), as well as five commodes and a hoist for lifting some of the heavier patients out of or into bed or a wheelchair.

“We still need about 50 more hospital beds,” admits Gayle. “Residents used to supply their own furniture, but we have two major problems. The one is that we must have beds on wheels in case of a fire. It would be complete chaos trying to manhandle infirm and confused elderly people, some of them very heavy, out of a burning building; it just could not be done.

“The other issue is that our beds must have rails and cot sides to prevent our residents from either falling out of bed or trying to climb out by themselves. Many of them are very restless sleepers and we dare not take that chance.” The new beds were allocated to the residents with the greatest need, but there is an urgency about obtaining more. Gayle is hoping they may be able to negotiate with Mediclinic to take over some of their beds, next time there is an upgrade. 

In the meantime, she mentions that although their indigent patients are fully-funded by the state, they currently have seven partially-subsidised spaces available and would be happy to consider applications from the public. Contact Jennie Vorster on 028 313 3236 or jennievorster@gmail.com.

The Board and Management of the Hermanus Frail Care Centre would like to express their sincere gratitude to the generous donors listed below who supported their Christmas 2019 fundraising project to buy much-needed additional equipment for the centre. A total amount of R38 900 was raised: Paul and Lorna Eglin, Irene Saunders, Mag@Hermanus, M Eksteen, Carl and Nikki, Ogston and Swart Families, Pauline Cupido, Rusty Demmer, Verona Drinkwater, Dr Watermeyer, Elizabeth Watson, CB Freeze, Patrick Chapman and four anonymous donors.

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