Douglas Murray Home for the Aged

The Keen Movement was doing extremely well and was willing to broaden their focus on other possible causes in need. A group member, Regan Smith, suggested assisting at Douglas Murray Home for the Aged in Retreat, Cape Town. She mentioned that money was not a need but rather spending time with the elderly would be more appreciated. The group initially never saw itself volunteering at an old age home but was willing to give it a try.

Douglas Murray has been around for more than 40 years, with roughly 80 residents that are at the home 24/7. Regan Smith was assigned her UCT Physiotherapy block service at Douglas Murray for a week. Part of her requirements was assisting the staff and running exercise classes with the Douglas Murray residents, if they were interested. After Regan’s week of block service, she felt the need to go back. She noticed the amount of strain that was put on the staff when having to work with the residents. Most of the residents suffer from injuries, mental illnesses or are too weak to look after themselves and so are in a wheel chair. Once up and dressed they are moved to the main hall where they stay in one spot the entire day as the staff do not have time to move them around to where they wish. Regan was saddened by this fact and would try to find time between her duties to speak to them or listen to their stories. She noticed how the residents from the home appreciated the little bit of attention and care she could spare.

Regan approached her fellow Keen members, told them about her experience and how she felt about Douglas Murray. The Keen team agreed to visit and help the staff in any way they could and spend time with the residents. Regan also suggested that she could host an exercise class with some of the residents.

Our first visit was in conjunction with Mandela Day, on the 18 July, celebrating Nelson Mandela’s birthday through everyone giving 67 minutes of their time to support a charity or serve in a local community. Nine of the Keen Movement members visited the following Saturday, 20 July and stayed from 8:30am till 11:00am. Two male members were assigned to tidy the beds and spent most of the morning doing it.  Four members were assisting in feeding the residents at the home, which mostly involved placing the meal at the table, a few needed to be personally fed due to their physical or mental disability. The remaining 3 members were mainly in the kitchen, cleaning the dishes or chopping vegetables for the lunchtime meal. We tried to swop roles, in order for all of us to get a chance at the different tasks. At 10:00am, Regan suggested that we start to ask the residents if they would like to join the exercise class, if they said ‘yes’, we wheeled them to a hall near by. A total of 15 residents joined the class and Regan conducted an exercise class that pushed them to try their best. Some of the Keen members assisted Regan by directly helping a resident that struggled or encouraging them to continue.

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