Through her work as a nurse, midwife and Community Home Based Care (CHBC) coordinator Chawa Enyatseng discovered the sad reality of abandoned grandparents usually left in the care of a maid. Through her work with CHBC Enyatseng got the opportunity to interact with the elders and discovered what a lonely lot, the older generation of Batswana has become.
She says some have been relegated to a lonely life where the only company they can count on is that of a portable radio and an untrained housekeeper. “I have often come across old parents just speaking to themselves because there is hardly ever anyone to indulge in conversation with, and when there is, they are just too busy or exhausted,” she says.
Upon retirement as CHBC coordinator in 2014 Enyatseng decided to take the road never travelled (in Botswana) and opened an adult day care centre. There4U Adult Day Care Centre began its operations in 2015 offering home based care services. With refurbishment of their new centre in Gaborone Extension 12 almost complete, Enyatseng hopes to start hosting clients soon.
Adult day care services centres have only been known to exist in the western world. The centres have grown remarkably since they first opened in the United States in the 1960s.
Starting an adult day centre may not be a walk in the park especially here in Botswana where the practice is practically unknown. While an adult day care centre may be a great resource for families, it may not be easy to convince people to consider the service. While some elders may resent participation in this type of program, their children may also feel guilty at the thought of leaving their loved ones in another person’s care.
When she first pitched the idea Enyatseng was met with resistance from her own daughter. “My daughter had reservations about the concept talking about how it wouldn’t feel right leaving me in the care of strangers but I reminded her of her love for travel,” Enyatseng says. She says her daughter loves travelling abroad for holidays. “I told her there will come a time when I would not be able to take care of myself like I do now , and she would either have to give up her love for travelling or take me along,” she explains, “and travelling won’t be that easy for me once I reach that age.” She says the only solution would come courtesy of a day care centre. Enyatseng says for those Batswana who know from their own experiences what the day care services may mean for impaired adults and their family members, the new concept may just be what the doctor ordered.
She says the primary purpose of an adult day care is to relieve the family members, caretaker, or maid for the day while ensuring that the elders still receive the proper care in a safe, friendly environment by trained staff. The centre will operate during normal business hours five days a week, with the option of additional services during weekends. “We shall also include additional field trips to enhance our services. Our aim is to give old people the best last years of their lives and ensure their fitness and health is well taken care of while at it.” Enyatseng also emphasises that There4U Adult Day Care Centre is not a clinic. “We are not here for the sick, nor do we offer consulting services. We only provide supervision and monitoring.” Studies have shown that at least half of old people have some form of cognitive impairment and need assistance with daily activities. This, Enyatseng says, is part of the reasons for opening the centre.
Our aims include to provide a place of safety and companionship; to provide a social and engaging environment where stimulation, activity, and conversation appropriate to individual needs will be available; to provide appropriate ,relevant, and well-structured physical activities that maximise and maintains physical functional levels, enhance independence, and reduce risk of physical injury. Crafts, cooking, games, gardening, parties, music therapy, and massages are some of the activities in the program. Enyatseng works with 10 trained auxiliary nurses.