In 1929 Dean Palmer of St. Mary's Anglican Cathedral campaigned for a home for elderly women who were too old to earn a living but who were capable of looking after themselves and cooking their own meals. The Women's Civic Society took the lead in this matter.
In 1933, Mrs. Bessie Fitzpatrick stepped in, and donated her home to the Society, as a memorial to her husband Gerald Fitzpatrick, making accommodation available to these women. After more than 80 years, Gerald Fitzpatrick House still serves as a haven for elderly ladies with small incomes, irrespective of culture, race or religion.
Over the years, as the ladies became frail there was a need to establish a frail care section.
We render the following services:
These residents are independent and do all their own cooking, room cleaning, shopping and laundry. A midday meal is available, at substantially below cost. These residents are encouraged to keep busy by working in their gardens or by helping in the charity shop and running the library. They are also encouraged to teach children at Bertrams Junior School to knit. They assist with making tea and washing up after activities in the Common Room. Other activities include mending, baking, making Christmas and birthday cards, administering the attendance registers (for every activity) and helping at the fête. Residents make craft items to be sold at the annual fête. They are transported to shopping malls, clinics and hospitals. A nurse is made available for the times they may need assistance.
ASSISTED LIVING - HOUSING: Assisted living was created to meet the needs of 7 less impaired residents currently being served in the nursing facility. The home provides help with meals, bathing, laundry, cleaning of rooms and dispensing of medication. Although this service has added to the Home’s running costs, it is being sponsored by the DSD and has become an essential part of our services.
We render 24 hr. nursing care to 40 elderly residents who are no longer capable of looking after themselves due to physical frailty or mental incapacity. The care is aimed at reducing the degree of functional impairment and enabling these residents to attain the highest level of health and well-being by improving their functional ability.
Gerald Fitzpatrick House (the Home or GFH) is managed by an executive committee (known as the 'Civic' for historical reasons) which consists of a Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, the GFH Manager and seven supporting members. With the exception of the manager, all are unpaid volunteers. The Civic meets every second month.
The Civic is supported by the Financial Advisory Board (the Chairman, Treasurer, Manager and two or three other volunteer members) which meets quarterly.
Day to day management is controlled by the Management Committee, convened monthly and consisting of the Chairman, Manager and heads of the operating units representing administration, nursing, fundraising, the social worker and housekeeper.
Once a month there is a formal Residents' Meeting with the management staff, to discuss any matters of general interest or concern.
The Manager has an 'open door' policy so that residents and staff can call on her to resolve any individual issues that arise.
Administrative staff at the Home consist of the Manager, Assistant Manager, Social Worker and 6 support staff. The 24-hour nursing staff consist of the Matron, a Nursing Sister, 3 Staff Nurses and 17 support staff. The Home employs 13 semi-skilled and unskilled staff who fill the roles of cooks, kitchen staff, cleaners, laundry staff, gardeners and security personnel.
The Home is extremely fortunate to have loyal and dedicated staff who often work many additional hours without extra pay and do not receive any perks such as meals or medical aid. The Home cannot afford a medical aid fund for its staff, but a provident fund has recently been introduced for all. The Home has a Wellness Policy and the Social Worker is available for counselling.
Social Work & Social Outreach
The Home's dedicated Social Worker (subsidised by the Department of Social Development - DSD) spends part of her time in the Home helping residents with social and personal problems. She visits all residents weekly and helps with the activity programmes. She assists with interviewing prospective residents and helps to get them settled when they move in.
In terms of the policy of the DSD, the Social Worker spends the greater portion of her time meeting community needs. Located in a very poor area in Bertrams, the Home and its residents are very aware of the needs and circumstances of the surrounding community and support the activities of the Social Worker where possible with donations of food and clothing.
Some of the residents spend time in a nearby school, where they teach children to knit. The completed items, usually a teddy, are presented to the learners at their end-of-year prize giving.
As a part of an Aids Awareness programme, residents produce knitted teddy bears to a standard pattern. These teddy bears are used to educate and bring awareness to HIV Aids in schools, aimed at learners in Grades 4, 5 and 6. A teddy bear is given to each child together with a printed certificate after a presentation to them by a qualified person. Over 6 500 teddies were handed out in 30 schools (situated mostly in Soweto) between 2003 and 2013.