Medical students helping the elderly at Mooihawe

A group of eight medical students in their third year at the UFS helped the elderly at the Mooihawe home for the elderly in Bloemfontein with services such as painting of corridors and the library, planting trees and to join the uncles and aunts for coffee.

A name plate will also be put up on every door in the home for the elderly, while a social worker was also contacted to provide sessions for an elderly woman who needed trauma counseling. The students also planted trees for the elderly at Mooihawe.

Mr Louwrens Steyn, one of the third-year students involved at Mooihawe said that it was a great privilege for them to be involved with the elderly. "We also learned about many of the needs of the elderly."

The students included the following quotes in their project presentation:

"The years teach much of which the days never new" – Ralph Waldo Emerson
"The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service" – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

From the research that students did about Mooihawe, it seems that Mooihawe consists of elderly people who are being taken care of, Alzheimer's patients and physically and mentally disabled people who require special care. Mooihawe is a non-profit organisation on which was established on 17 September 1970. It is registered as one of the largest organisations of its kind in the Free State.

Mooihawe provides accommodation for 120 residents, of whom 90 women and 30 men. The average age of residents is between 80 and 85 years.

Mooihawe offers many services to the residents as a safe home and environment, professional nursing services, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, clinical services, balanced meals, laundry service, a hair salon, church, library, socialising, relaxation, light exercise and recovery services.

Refurbishing of Mooihawe Old-Age Home

The students are now helping to establish the Eden Alternative at the Mooihawe home for the aged. The idea that led to the Eden Alternative is that the elderly in general are often struggling because they are lonely, helpless and feeling bored.

First, they are trying to create a parent-centered community as an environment where there is close and continuing contact with plants, animals and children. The goal is for all the elderly to be involved in the fellowship of people and animals.

Second, a human-centered approach of caring for older people. The idea is to give the elderly more freedom to live as normal as possible in nursing homes.

The plan is the process of putting the decision-making process back into the hands of the people themselves. An example is the choice for the elderly to decide for themselves when they will be eating between 07:00 and 10:00, instead of all of them queuing up for breakfast at 08:00. More flexibility is also allowed for the bath hours.

Elderly who are still able to do so are encouraged to do cooking and washing themselves. That way the elderly feel less helpless.

The management of Mooihawe is also engaged in implementing a health centre with a fully equipped pharmacy, rehabilitation and exercise centre as well as offices for the physiotherapists and occupational therapists. The management believes that environment changes will allow for more freedom for the residents and they would feel that they are still engaged in a life that is worthwhile to live.

The students involved believe that this initiative can work if the public can help with generous donations.

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