The institutionalisation of the aged : the importance of visitation, and the role of the specialised visitor

Prest, C. B. (Colin B.) (2003-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2003

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Ageing is a fact of life. It often gives rise to unfortunate consequences. Physical infirmities; senile dementia; emotional disturbance. Indeed, the effects of the ageing process can be such as to render a person incapable of performing the ordinary and normal functions of life. In such a case, institutionalisation presents itself as a prospect to enable an aged person to cope with the ordinary day-to-day activities of living. The purpose of institutionalisation is to improve the quality of life of the elderly. In considering the process, a number of important facets need to be borne in mind. Firstly, the process must be seen in relation to the condition of the person being institutionalised. Secondly, the process must be seen as a matter of extraordinary change in the life of the aged person. This implies a detailed explanation and full disclosure of the process envisaged, and, if needs be, appropriate counselling of the person concerned. Thirdly, there must be sympathetic and sensitive assistance given to the aged person in adapting to a new situation. Fourthly, a continuing and intimate interest in, and concern for, the aged person on the part of the family must be accentuated and impressed. This gives rise to the importance of visitation on the part of the family. Its meaning and purpose must be understood. The need for meaningful visitation must be stressed, and the status of a respected member of the family must be emphasised. The aged person must never be cut-off, separated or neglected. Visits must not be a coincidental, haphazard and aimless occurrence. Visitation must always be directed at improving the quality of life of the aged person. The aged person, despite her advanced years and debilitated condition, remains a person with thoughts, feelings, emotions, difficulties and problems. She needs time and attention. The normal or regular pattern of visitation does not, by and large, accomplish these ends. Something more is required. Specialised visitation. This is something different from ordinary, normal, social visitation. It is more intense, more concentrated and more regular. It embodies consistent and continuous contract. It is directed at effectiveness. It is never haphazard or aimless and always has as its objective an improved quality of life for the aged. The specialised visitor and the resident come to know each other well; they come to trust each other, and they come to realise that the object of the visit is more than an exchange of frivolities. Specialised visitation manifests a concern for the aged; it offers them support, stability, certainty and security. This is so because the specialised visitor responds to an inner conviction, an infinite calling, and an earnest urging. It is not a task but a vocation. Many factors contribute to the enhancement of the quality of life of the elderly : three may be mentioned. Institutionalisation, visitation and the role undertaken by the specialised visitor.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Veroudering is 'n gegewe feit wat dikwels tot ongelukkige toestande soos fisiese swakhede, seniliteit en emosionele versteuring lei. Die gevolge van veroudering kan inderdaad 'n persoon verhinder om die alledaagse en normale funksies van lewe uit te voer. In sulke gevalle bied institusionalisering die moontlikheid dat 'n bejaarde persoon wel kan handel met die gewone dag-tot-dag aktiwiteite van die lewe. Die doel van institusionalisering is die verbetering van die kwaliteit van lewe van die bejaarde. In die beskouing van hierdie proses moet 'n aantal fasette in aanmerking geneem word. Eerstens, moet die proses in verhouding tot die toestand waarm die persoon wat geïnstitusionaliseeer word verkeer, gesien word. Tweedens, die proses verteenwoordig 'n buitengewone verandering in die lewe van die bejaarde persoon. Om dit te vergemaklik moet 'n gedetaileerde verduideliking en volle openbaarmaking van die proses wat voorlê aan die persoon gegee word en, indien nodig, toepaslike berading aan die persoon verskaf word. Derdens, die persoon moet simpatieke en sensitiewe bystand in die proses van aanpassing tot die nuwe situasie verleen word. Vierdens,die gesin van die persoon moet baie duidelik onder die indruk gebring word van die belang van voortgesette en intieme belangstelling in die persoon deur hulself Hierdie aspek bring die belangrikheid van besoek deur die gesin na vore. Die betekenis en doel van besoek moet deeglik verstaan word. Die behoefte van betekenisvolle besoek moet benadruk word en die status van die persoon as gerespekteerde lid van die gesin beklemtoon word. Die bejaarde mag nooit afgesny, afgesonder of verwaarloos word nie. Besoeke mag nie toevallig, planloos en doelloos geskied nie. Besoeke moet altyd gerig wees op die verbetering van die kwaliteit van die lewe van die bejaarde. Ten spyte van haar gevorderde jare en afgetakelde toestand bly die bejaarde persoon iemand met eie denke, gevoelens, emosies, moeilikhede en probleme. Sy benodig tyd en aandag. Die gewone of gereelde patroon van besoek bereik oor die algemeen nie hierdie doeleindes nie. Iets meer word vereis, naamlik gespesialiseerde besoek. Dit is duidelik verskillend van die gewone, normale sosiale besoek. Dit is meer intensief, meer gekonsentreerd en meer gereeld. Dit beliggaam bestendige en deurlopende kontak. Dit is gerig op doelbereiking. Dit is nooit planloos of doelloos nie en het altyd as oogmerk om die kwaliteit van lewe van die bejaarde te verbeter. Die gespesialiseerde besoeker en die inwoner leer mekaar goed ken sodat hulle mekaar vertrou, en besef dat die oogmerk van die besoeke meer behels as 'n uitruil van beuselagtighede. Gespesialiseerde besoek druk 'n besorgdheid VIT die bejaarde uit. Dit gee aan hulle ondersteuning, stabiliteit, sekerheid en sekuriteit. Dit is so omdat die gespesialiseerde besoeker vanuit 'n innerlike oortuiging, 'n onbegrensde roeping en 'n ernstige lewensdrang optree. Dit is nie 'n taak nie maar 'n roeping. Baie faktore dra by tot die verhoging van die kwaliteit van lewe van bejaardes. Drie hiervan is institusionalisering, besoek en die rol wat die gespesialiseerde besoeker onderneem.

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