Ekuphumleni Old age home in Eastern Cape

Image via Adobe Stock

WC departments issue updated safety protocols for old age homes

Western Cape Departments of Social Development and Health has provided updated guidelines for COVID-19 prevention in old age homes.

Ekuphumleni Old age home in Eastern Cape

Image via Adobe Stock

Listen up folks, there are new and updated guidelines for the prevention and management of COVID-19 in old age homes. 

The Western Cape Departments of Social Development and Health, on Thursday 21 May, released updated guidelines for infections. As the number of COVID-19 infections continues to rise in the Western Cape, there is a growing concern, especially for the elderly who have been deemed the most vulnerable. 

At the time of publishing, there are 12 153 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Western Cape.

These guidelines are currently being distributed to all facilities, are specifically designed for residents and staff and provide guidance on all hygiene aspects within a residential facility, and on response protocols for any suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases among staff or residents. 


According to the departments, the amended and updated guidelines are divided into two main parts. 

Western Cape Minister of Social Development Sharna Fernandez said: “Part A of the guideline provides recommendations towards prevention strategies for COVID-19 in an old age home.” 

“We further recognise the importance of consistently engaging with the Board of directors of these facilities, who perform such an invaluable service for our vulnerable older persons. We have also recommended preventative measures to all old age homes across the province so that we can be proactive in preventing further spread of the COVID-19,” she added.  

The following preventative strategies are recommended:

  • Immunisation – provide annual influenza vaccination to employees and residents as these infections are important contributors to respiratory mortality in older people;
  • Basic Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus;
  • Physical distancing in residential facilities; and 
  • Identification of Risk; daily screening program, staff member risk assessment and workplace risk assessment.

Western Cape Minister of Health Nomafrench Mbombo said: 

“Part B provides recommendations on what to do if residents and/or staff members are exposed to COVID-19 in a residential [area]. In line with the risk approach to case management where vulnerable communities (such as the aged) will be prioritised, the Health Department will conduct targeted screening and testing in old age homes in hotspot areas.”

On a practical level, the two Departments have a referral protocol in place for any old age home that reports an infection.


The Provincial Department of Social Development (DSD) has also provided additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all funded old age homes. 

To date, it has issued and distributed 5000 face masks and is expecting a further donation of 10 000 more face masks for old age homes. The departments are, however, always looking for further support in its effort to help those who are vulnerable across communities. 

If you are able to donate any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or provide other support, please make contact here.

The public is also urged to access credible information here.