Children with disabilities often need specialised care 24 hours a day, which can be challenging for working parents – especially when they have more than on child. They seek care facilities for their children for various reasons including inadequate support structures at home, family members struggling to deal with the demands of taking care of a child with disabilities, or referral by a family doctor or paediatrician.
Facilities such as Casa Caritas offer parents and their children the much-needed structure and space they need to manage all aspects of their lives.
For Claus and Olga Coetzee, a series of circumstances forced their hands to register their child at Casa Caritas. Olga says the family initially cared for their child with the help of live-in grandparents and a live-in helper.
“His grandmother passed away when he was 10. His grandfather and helper started to feel the strain of dealing with his care, especially as they got older,” she explains. “We realised that our support system was weakening and we began to feel physically tired while trying to meet the demands of full-time jobs as well.”
“We also realised that his sister was not receiving the attention she needed, because all of our extra time and energy was dedicated to our son. We felt we were being unfair to our daughter, who also deserved our love and attention,” she adds.
Parents who have enlisted their children at Casa Caritas agree that it was the best decision they could have made for their children. Roelof and Zuna Van Rensburg (names changed for anonymity) say the decision to move their child to Casa Caritas was in his best interest, because he could receive the 24-hour professional care he needed.
“Our helper was diagnosed with heart failure and because I am a teacher, I needed someone to take care of him when I was not at home,” Zuna explains. “I believe it was in our family’s best interest to know that there would always be people with specialised skills to take care of him. It has allowed us to lead fuller lives, engage in social activities and go on vacations, which was not possible before.”
While parents who have enlisted their children at Casa Caritas feel a sense of relief that they are making the right decision, they also experience other emotions such as abandonment, guilt and separation anxiety. The decision to move their daughter to Casa Caritas was incredibly difficult for George and Gaby Dos Santos and it took its toll on them mentally and psychologically.
George says his wife was particularly affected by the decision, but decided to go for counselling to help her cope. He shares: “We miss our daughter, but the care provided by Casa Caritas has been life-changing. A huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders, knowing that the lovely team at Casa Caritas is giving her the care and attention she deserves. They are always available to assist when needed and this affords us greater peace of mind.”
Parents report that the feelings of abandonment and guilt subside with time when they observe the constant good care their children receive. This reassures them that they have made the right choice. The facility is open to parents and they are allowed to visit their children at specific times during the day. Some parents who live close by visit every day, while those who are based further away visit as often as they can.
Casa Caritas offer 24-hour specialised care and provides daily therapy and sensory stimulation for the children. The facility has a recreation room, emergency room and controlled outdoor environment for supervised physical activities.
Casa Caritas is a residential care facility that provides life-long care to children with disabilities. As a non-profit organisation, it relies on donations and fundraisers to meet expenses and pay the salaries of its dedicated employees.
For more information, visit the Casa Caritas website here.