Category Archives: Rand Aid

Ron Smith Care Centre celebrates its new Woodlands Garden

Rand Aid Association’s Ron Smith Care Centre celebrated the opening of its Woodlands Garden and its facilities on 20 April.

Board members, employees, residents and village committees celebrated the opening of the lovely landscaped area – which was designed by Anthony Schaffler from Schaffler Nurseries – and includes a beautiful new lapa, with braai facilities; a pavilion overlooking the new Astroturf croquet lawn; mini golf (putt-putt); and a jungle gym for children who visit their loved ones.

“The opening of Woodlands Gardens is another great occasion in the ongoing redevelopment, renovation and expansion of the Ron Smith Care Centre,” said John Robinson, Rand Aid’s chairman of the board.

Over the past five years the care centre has been transformed to offer even better care for elders and its redesign ensures that it is able to care for their special needs.

Robinson acknowledged that the introduction of the Eden Alternative has ensured this transformation.

“The enthusiasm, training and dedication of management and staff has contributed to making this one of the best care establishments of its type in Africa. The Ron Smith Care Centre has been recognised for its exemplary provision of care, facilities and services for the aged by the United Nations World Health Organisation,” he confirmed.

Part of the opening celebration involved the unveiling of a plaque, which acknowledges a heartfelt donation from Barry and Theresa Dubb, in honour of Barry’s mother Joyce Dubb, a resident at Ron Smith. When the Dubbs got married, they requested that donations be made to the care centre in lieu of wedding gifts and it is this funding which kick-started the garden project.

The croquet lawn and putt-putt course were officially opened when residents Sylvia Laserow hit a croquet ball through a wicket and Christine Kincaid-Smith attempted a putt-putt hole-in-one! A champagne toast, in honour of the new garden and facilities, followed.

The care centre’s employees concluded the event in traditional dress, singing a beautiful blessing for the garden.

Robinson is sure that Woodlands Garden is a welcome addition to the care centre and will bring much enjoyment and to residents and their families and friends.

Ron Smith Care Centre’s complex manager Helen Petrie invited guests to view the new widened bridge over the Jukskei River (the old one was destroyed by severe storms and flooding in November 2016) and said that it can now accommodate golf carts and wheelchairs. This increased accessibility will hopefully encourage more interaction between all of Rand Aid’s retirement villages.

Wedge Garden’s kings and their queen beat boredom

Things are a lot more black and white at Wedge Gardens treatment centre these days.

The long-anticipated giant outdoor chessboard has been completed and is being enjoyed by the gentlemen at Wedge Gardens.

“A special mention needs to be made of those individuals who made yet another occupational therapy department (OT) project possible,” says Kendra Neethling, who heads up the OT department and played a big role in the project. “Our thanks go to Rand Aid CEO Rae Brown and the Rand Aid Association, groundsman George Vermeulen and his team, as well as the patients at Wedge Gardens.”

Leisure boredom – or unproductive free time – is considered a precipitating factor in addiction and substance use. The OT department at Wedge Garden strives to instil balance within the lives of the patients at the rehabilitation facility by stressing that through meaningful occupational engagement, an individual is better able to cope with life stressors, feel a sense of worth and meaning within society and find enjoyment in healthy and constructive activity participation.

“Not only is the chessboard a space for the gentlemen to learn to use their time in a productive manner, but it is an area at Wedge Gardens where they can learn social and cognitive skills,” says Kendra.

It is a known fact that substance abuse negatively impacts cognitive health. “A chessboard is a fantastic mechanism to promote cognitive skills such as concentration and attention, memory, problem solving, judgement and executive tasks. Furthermore, as the game requires at least two players, the patients at Wedge are exposed to social interaction, which aids communication and conflict management skills,” says Kendra.

The OT department believes that through the creation and completion of projects such as the chessboard, the patients at Wedge Gardens learn numerous skills on an ongoing basis.

As such, they were involved in the planning and construction of the project and the procurement of donations. “A sense of altruism is instilled in the patients because when they end their treatment programme, they leave having been a part of a project that can be used by future patients.

“I am exceptionally proud of my patients and the work they have done to complete another OT project. Through encouraging proactive use of the facilities at Wedge Gardens, we are equipping our patients with skills for the re-integration into society, which is fundamental to any recovery programme.”

Sanca happily settled at Wedge Gardens

After relocating last year, the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) is settled in at Wedge Gardens treatment centre in Whitney Gardens, Lyndhurst, just outside of Johannesburg.

Both the Sanca National Office and the Sanca National Academy of Learning are based at Wedge Gardens, which is situated in extensive grounds easily accessible from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni.

Wedge Gardens officially become a member of the Sanca family in 2016 after going through the approval process with Sanca’s National Management Board.

“With the Sanca head office on the premises of Wedge Gardens, a closer working relationship has been established. Numerous clients have been referred for treatment through the website and WhatsApp helpline. In addition, other stakeholders visiting the National Sanca Office get to know about Wedge Gardens,” says Sanca spokesperson Adrie Vermeulen.

“Wedge Gardens offers a safe, secure and welcoming environment. We feel at home and have received excellent support from the maintenance and gardening services,” she adds.

“The management of Wedge Gardens, Ayanda Matthews and Adel Grobbelaar, has been wonderful and helped us settle in. It is a mutually supportive and beneficial relationship.

“As one of the oldest rehabilitation centres in the country, Wedge Gardens is one of the flagships of the type of services which should ideally be provided to treat substance use disorders in South Africa,” says Adrie.

Established in 1956, Sanca has a proud history of contributing to the prevention and treatment of alcohol and drug dependence. It has evolved over the years to meet modern challenges and today boasts an Academy of Learning that offers Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority-accredited courses for those who have a passion for working with people.

“We offer a basic counselling course and online courses,” says Adrie.

Sanca has a presence in eight of the country’s nine provinces. Wedge Gardens is one of 30 Sanca treatment centres.

“We are proud to be part of this hard-working and effective non-profit organisation,” says Ayanda.

* For further information on Sanca or to enrol for one of the courses offered, visit their website www.sancanational.info. You can also use their WhatsApp helpline: 076 535 170.

* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320 or visit their website: www.wedgegardens.co.za

 

 

Nursing veteran joins Wedge Gardens team

With two decades of experience in the healthcare field, Wedge Garden’s new deputy manager and professional charge nurse brings to the table a wealth of knowledge that complements the substance abuse treatment centre’s dedicated professional team.

Kempton Park resident Estelle Raath joined Wedge Gardens on February 1, 2018.

“As part of Wedge Garden’s multi-disciplinary team, I am hoping to add the experience gained in many disciplines to Wedge Gardens and to the patients,” she says.

One of her past positions was at another Gauteng-based rehabilitation centre. “I gained lots of experience in the field of addiction and found that I have an affinity for it.”

Estelle completed her B.Cur degree in 1995 through Potchefstroom University and registered as a nursing sister (general, community, midwifery and psychiatry).

During her training, she worked at various hospitals including Potchefstroom Hospital, Klerksdorp Hospital, Witrand Rehabilitation Centre, Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital, Tara Moross Psychiatric Hospital and various community nursing clinics.

Before joining Wedge Gardens, she was unit manager medical ward: Life Dalview Hospital. Before that she was nursing service manager: Elim Clinic. Estelle has vast experience in occupational health, as a maternity and labour ward sister and as a theatre sister. She also did a stint in Saudi Arabia.

A fan of evolving with the times, Estelle has completed a number of short courses.

Since starting at Wedge Gardens, everyone has welcomed me and made me feel as if I am an old colleague. Team members and all patients at Wedge are amazing and I am truly blessed to be working here,” she says.

Labyrinth smooths rehab’s rocky road

Wedge Gardens treatment centre’s occupational therapy (OT) department has stepped to it and completed is walking labyrinth.

“The aim was to provide an additional space for mindfulness practices at the Wedge Gardens to fuel and support the dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) and mindfulness-based stress-reduction programmes that the OT department run every weekday morning,” says Kendra Neethling, who heads up the department.

Mindfulness and emotion regulation, which are skills of DBT, have been recognised as key components towards any recovery process. Fuelled by the desire to motivate and engage the patients at Wedge Gardens in mindfulness, Kendra began the process of collecting donations for the rocks needed to form the borders of the walking labyrinth.

“A huge thank you to Pebbles for Africa for their help in reducing the costs of two truckloads of rocks. Gratitude is also extended to all individuals (whose names are recorded around the labyrinth) for their contribution towards raising funds for the OT project, as well as to Rand Aid for its continued support.”

Kendra says the construction of the labyrinth was a rewarding process for all involved. “The patients were taught to take initiative during the construction process and as such were encouraged to work collaboratively – utilising communication and problem-solving skills, as well as frustration tolerance, in the formation of ideas and the implementation of action.

“The pride I have in my patients is huge. Not only have they shown investment in their recovery process by actively engaging in all elements of this project, but they have created a space that can be used for years to come by future recovering addicts and alcoholics. Mindfulness is an exceptionally powerful medium in developing skills that combat anxiety, depression and rumination as well as emotion regulation, self-compassion and awareness.”

Occupational therapists work through activities to help with awareness of self, skill development and the creation of functional, meaningful and goal-directed lives. Every project initiated by the OT department at Wedge Gardens is centred around optimal patient care and treatment.

“It is a fantastic experience seeing the change that occurs in an individual when they engage in something that stimulates passion, creativity and enthusiasm – and even more so when it promotes change in behaviour.”

* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320. You can also ‘like’ Wedge Gardens on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WedgeGardensTreatmentCentre) or follow them on Twitter (@WedgeGardens)

The ugly truth about depression and substance abuse

Research indicates a connection between mood disorders like depression and substance abuse, says social worker Karen Griessel, who has helped dozens of people kick addiction through Wedge Gardens’ professional treatment programme.

Sanca-affiliated Wedge Gardens has developed a holistic treatment programme based on multi-disciplinary interventions that focus on assessment, behaviour change, family and community integration and recovery care within the life cycle of addiction, from onset to the later years.

“People diagnosed with a mood disorder are twice as likely to abuse substances and one-third of people with depression have an alcohol problem. People who are depressed may drink or abuse drugs to lift their mood or escape from feelings of guilt or despair. But substances like alcohol, which is a depressant, can increase feelings of sadness or fatigue,” says Karen.

She explains that people can experience depression after the effects of drugs wear off or as they struggle to cope with how the addiction has impacted their life. “A drink or two or a line of cocaine might temporarily relieve some symptoms, but the backlash when the chemical leaves the body brings the depression to new lows. This withdrawal depression happens each time chemicals leave the body. This can trigger the use of more alcohol or drugs because they will help get rid of the bad feelings.”

Those who suffer from depression are combating more than just occasional sadness. Many times, the symptoms of depression manifest physically as well as mentally. Some of the symptoms include the following: aches and pains, sleeplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, weight issues, sleeping too much, no energy, crying, worthlessness, irritability, suicide and general loss of interest in life. Some roots of depression include brain functioning, environment and childhood experiences, genetics, situational factors and chemical imbalances in the brain.

“It’s not clear fact which comes first – addiction or depression. Some people develop alcoholism or drug addiction first while others develop depression first. Because drug-use symptoms can imitate the symptoms of depression, it can be difficult to diagnose depression when a person is actively using,” she says.

A person who abuses a substance may also develop depression. For instance, the person may abuse a substance, become addicted, and eventually it affects their life negatively. These effects may contribute to developing depression as it alters the levels of serotonin.

On the other hand, people who have depression may abuse a substance to self-medicate and treat the problem. Although substance abuse may be used to relieve symptoms, chemical intoxication can make depressive episodes more severe, increasing the frequency and intensity of negative thoughts and self-destructive behaviour. “Typically, this is only a temporary solution, as the substance abuse worsens the depression over time. Drug or alcohol dependency can cause a great deal of hardship across all spectrums of life and ultimately worsen the person’s depression.”

The World Health Organisation states that 350 million reported people suffer from depression, half of which won’t receive treatment.

Treatment for depression and substance abuse generally includes the use of both medications and therapy. Antidepressants may be used to stabilise mood, and various medications may be used as needed to moderate withdrawal from substances of abuse. Therapy makes up the backbone of treatment, addressing issues related to both disorders. A rehab programme that addresses both depression and addiction may help to stop the progression of both disorders and empower the individual to build a healthy, sober life.

“Someone who had depression before they began to abuse substances will most likely need treatment, including medication intervention, for a longer time than someone whose depression was caused by the cycle of addiction.

“Depression is a chronic, progressive illness that may get worse without treatment. The only way to treat this serious disorder effectively is through professional therapeutic interventions, such as behavioural modification, support groups, motivational therapy and antidepressant medications.”

* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320. You can also ‘like’ Wedge Gardens on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WedgeGardensTreatmentCentre) or follow them on Twitter (@WedgeGardens)

 

On the straight and narrow, thanks to people who care

A little bit of civic-mindedness and concern for others goes a long way. This is what young Lebogang Tsebe of Alexandra experienced when his mother refused to allow him to ruin his life.

Sylvia Tsebe is part of the housekeeping staff at Rand Aid’s Inyoni Creek retirement village. Last year, she unburdened herself at work, saying how she feared for her young son who was using drugs and refusing to go to school.

Rand Aid also manages a substance abuse treatment centre called Wedge Gardens. “We approached Wedge Gardens for guidance and Lebogang was put on a waiting list to be admitted to the centre for treatment,” explains Jenny Tonkin, Inyoni Creek’s manager.

Eventually, a space became available and Lebogang spent the next three months as a resident of Wedge Gardens, where he benefited from the professional programme that is run. It is a holistic programme based on multi-disciplinary interventions that focus on assessment, behaviour change, family and community integration and recovery care.

The centre has a limited number of state subsidised beds.

At the end of last year, Lebogang returned home – clean, sober and full of hope. Sylvia knew that without an education, Lebogang would battle to get a job and without a constructive way to keep himself busy, his chances of relapse were greater. She again turned to the management team at Inyoni Creek.

Deputy complex manager Marinda Looyen suggested that Lebogang go and see what courses were available at the Ekurhuleni Artisans and Skills Training Centre in Kempton Park, where Inyoni Creek sends its staff for training.

“On applying at the college, he was given a full bursary and is doing a three-year course to be trained as a mechanic,” says Jenny, smiling when she remembers how Lebogang – now 19 – arrived at their offices recently to thank them for all they had done to help him.

Wedge Gardens plans walking labyrinth

The Wedge Garden treatment centre’s occupational therapy (OT) department is expanding the mindfulness sessions it holds every morning with the recovering addicts in its care, by implementing more active-meditative, mindfulness practices.

Active-meditation can be more grounded and comfortable for people who are new to mindfulness as the process can feel a lot less daunting and demanding. Currently, the OT department engages in predominately still, silent meditation with the patients, with yoga once a week. The hope is to enrich the mindfulness programme with a walking labyrinth to introduce the patients to the multiple ways in which a person can practice new skills.

Mindfulness is the art of paying attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them. “Numerous research studies support the benefits of practicing mindfulness, with the most pertinent benefit being that of developing the ability to self-regulate: train attention and awareness in order to bring mental processes under greater voluntary control, thereby fostering general mental well-being,” says Kendra Neethling, who heads up the centre’s OT department.

“Researchers theorise that mindfulness lessens stress and enhances working memory. These cognitive gains, in turn, help people better control and regulate emotional responses to events.

“These skills are exceptionally useful for individuals facing today’s challenges, and within an addiction rehabilitation centre like Wedge Gardens, they can be the foundation to preventing relapse,” says Kendra.

The OT department was recently in touch with Pebbles for Africa and have been fortunate enough to receive a discounted rate on large rocks that will help form the border of the labyrinth.

“However, we need to secure the funds to complete the project and as such, I ask anyone interested in helping to please contact me. Any assistance will be greatly appreciated – and recognised – on completion of the project.

“Your help can change lives!”

* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320. You can also ‘like’ Wedge Gardens on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WedgeGardensTreatmentCentre) or follow them on Twitter (@WedgeGardens)

Thembalami residents savour dining hall make-over

Sandton-based Infinitude Design has once again worked a little magic at Rand Aid’s Thembalami Care Centre.

The company has done make-overs of various parts of the care centre over the past few years. Situated in Lombardy East, Thembalami looks after vulnerable senior citizens and aged deaf and deafblind people.

This time around, it was the dining room that was given a new look. The large room was transformed into a vibrant space. Wallpaper was put on three walls, splashes of colour added through paint and artwork, new curtains puts up and tiles laid. In addition, the steel windows and doors were replaced with aluminium ones.

“In the one corner of the hall they created a cosy lounge area with a TV set against the wall. They took a three-and two seater couch and two wingback chairs and re-upholster them with fabric that was donated by one of their suppliers. This is a beautiful space where the residents can sit and enjoy drinking coffee or tea whilst watching the morning news,” says Elize Raath, the head of Thembalami.

She adds that Infinitude Design had 110 cushions made for the chairs in the dining hall.  “One of their suppliers made the cushions at cost price. They are covered in navy blue and brown fake leather, which is easy to wash but has made the chairs nice and soft,” says Elize.

Each table now sports a steel condiment holder with a small succulent plant in it, and laminated place mats were designed for each resident.

“The transformation is amazing. The dining hall looks warm, homely and creates an atmosphere of serenity,” says Elize.

 

Heart-warming Christmas celebrations at care centre

On December 19, there was a flurry of activity at the Ron Smith Care Centre as final preparations were made for the Christmas party to be held the following day. The decorations were up, the cutlery was polished, the tables were laid, the pretty Christmas tree centre-pieces with angels, garland and tinsel were placed, and a final staff practice of the Christmas entertainment was held.

The care centre staff, all dressed in red and white and wearing Santa hats, began the celebrations with a procession into the hall, singing Silent Night. They continued with the carols: Once in Royal David’s City, Away in a Manger, Jingle Bells, Mary’s Boy Child and a rousing Joy to the World. Then it was the residents’ turn to sing along to lovely piano music by volunteer, Jean Johnson, as she played some of their favourites: Hark the Herald Angels Sing, The Drummer Boy and We wish you a Merry Christmas, amongst others.

Following the singing, there was a special performance by staff, who acted out the lyrics to The 12 Days of Christmas. As an introduction, Debbie Christen,  Rand Aid’s Manager: Recreational Programmes, reminded the audience that this old English carol was actually about a love-sick gentleman plying his sweetheart with a series of gifts which increase in quantity and volume over each of the 12 days.

The Ron Smith Care Centre staff’s comical interpretation of this old fashioned song brought smiles of delight and laughter, as they recognised those representing the 12 drummers drumming, the 11 pipers piping, 10 lords a leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight milk maids milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree!

Next was a surprise visit by Santa Claus (aka volunteer Dave Stewart), whose arrival was heralded with the jingle of sleigh bells and a very loud, “Ho Ho Ho – Merry Christmas”. He handed out Sweetie Pies to all the residents, with the help of his two elves. The Christmas programme wrapped up with staff and residents singing to Feliz Navidad, with the staff dancing around the hall, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.

The residents then moved across to the dining room for a lovely Christmas lunch, which consisted of a Salmon mousse starter, followed by roast sirloin of beef and lamb, roast potatoes, and vegetables. A lovely sherry trifle rounded off the delicious meal.

Care centre resident Gordon Ross summed up the celebration by saying: “I don’t think that I have ever attended anything before, where people enjoyed themselves like that… to be a part of this was very heart-warming.”