THE STORY OF QUEENSHAVEN
This history of Queenshaven was compiled by Pam van Straaten and has been updated since.
The Mayor of Johannesburg at the time was one of the founder members of the Johannesburg Coronation Foundation at the time of the inauguration of “Queenshaven”, which was established in 1952 to commemorate the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, by the provision of accommodation and the necessary amenities and services for the indigent aged persons who had been resident in Johannesburg or the reef for a minimum period of 8 years.
It was largely due to voluntary contributions from the public that the project became a reality. “Queenshaven” is a Retirement Village, or old age home, situated on the corner of Southern Klipriviersberg and Outspan Roads in the suburb of South Hills, Johannesburg, set among trees and flowering shrubs with accommodation for some 350 senior citizens.
Residents admitted are required to be able to care for themselves independently, but facilities are provided for those who reach the stage of frailty.
This Haven was established to provide a life of dignity and security and to give the old folk the best possible happiness in their twilight years. Age is a quality of mind and if one grows old happily, much of one’s youth remains. Queenshaven was designed to be and has become something quite different from an institution. It is an individual home for each of our Residents.
It is indeed a tragedy that so many aged folk fall into the category of the “unwanted”. In many cases, the families are unable or disinclined to look after them; in other cases, there is no immediate family to take over the burden or perhaps not even a friend or remote relative can be located. The result is that they are left to their own devices and exist in a miserable environment in some lonely and unfavourable accommodation. The problem of the aged as the statisticians have emphasised over and over again, must inevitably increase as the years go by.
Those entrusted to our care, are privileged to contribute a nominal cost towards accommodation and services and under these commendable conditions, they do not suffer the anxieties and hardships experienced by others in these times of serious inflation and economic climate.
Sincere thanks and appreciation goes out to the self-sacrificing labours of the many hundreds who joined forces to stimulate the generosity of the public. Sufficient funds were raised to place Queenshaven on a sound foundation to provide adequate comfort and security for the aged community.
The idea of providing a home for the aged was conceived and started by the Johannesburg City Council in 1953 with a munificent donation of 25,000 pounds in cash and the gift of the site – 25 acres. The phenomenal response of the public to the 1953 appeal made it possible in 1955 to erect the first three sections planned, viz, the housing of 100 pensioners with a maximum per capita income of 10 pounds per month.
This first section was soon filled and clearly indicated the need for further services of this nature. The second section provided homes for a further 100 pensioners with incomes not exceeding 15 pounds per month.
During 1956, the Queenshaven Village appeal was launched. The greatest credit is due to the initiative and drive of the organisers of this splendid body, which was formed to raise funds.
The Administrator of the Transvaal was the Patron-in-Chief. His Worship the Mayor of Johannesburg, Mr Hymie Miller, was Honorary President and Sir Ernest Oppenheimer honoured us by accepting the Presidency of the Queenshaven Village appeal body.
On this Committee, we had the extremely valuable help of the many leading business, social and professional figures in Johannesburg and the valuable and concerted assistance of all sections of the press.
Funds grew steadily during the following year under the forceful Executive Chairmanship of Mr Raymond Steyn and the able organisation of Col G D Henderson, with the active help of their committees.
We also record the wonderful generosity of the Mining Industry and many other big public institutions, business houses and private individuals, who provided substantial donations – a tremendous effort in support of a very worthy cause.
Various forms of fund raising was undertaken by the many convenors which included, motor race meetings, golfing and bowling tournaments, street collections, charity concerts and balls, ice festivals, carnivals and fetes, charity race meetings, sale and auctions of race horses and gymkhanas. Mesdames Daphne Bennett (formerly Edmunds) and Phyllis Warwick-Bryant, were stalwart organisers and convenors of most of the aforementioned functions.
There was no doubt that the dream of 1953 would become a reality and that the Queenshaven Village would stand completed and endowed as a permanent monument to a great deal and a great effort.
A remarkable feature of the search for funds was the foundation of the Raymond Steyn’s “1000 Club”. There were 41 members each of whom contributed a sum of 1,000 pounds over 5 years. Membership carried no privileges save acknowledgement on a plaque erected in the main hall and the satisfaction of having contributed substantially. Donations of specific denominations were commemorated by memorial plaques at Queenshaven dependent upon the amount subscribed and the names of all donors who contributed 100 pounds or more are recorded on the “Founders Roll” housed in the administrative offices of Queenshaven.
The cottage scheme was also introduced to enable donors to subscribe the sum required for the erection of a cottage in memory of loved ones. All Village blocks have been commemorated and suitably inscribed plaques erected at the entrance to the Village blocks.
In 1970, a sum of R50,000 from the estate of the late G H R Edmunds was bequeathed to Queenshaven. This bequest was to be allocated entirely at the discretion of his widow, Mrs Daphne Edmunds, for the benefit of the Residents of Queenshaven. A small bus to assist Residents in carrying out their shopping was acquired and also the installation of a PABX telephone service was provided, which was replaced by a private automatic exchange in 1976.
Although we are deeply indebted for the valuable support which we have received over the years from a large number of benefactors, it is regrettable that an exhaustive and complete record of all who assisted, since the inception of Queenshaven, would prove onerous to detail in this review. However, all avenues of support, whether in cash or kind, have been listed in the records of Queenshaven.
Donations to the Foundation are free of Donations Tax and Legacies are free of Death Duties. The Director of Social Services gave willingly of valuable advice and guidance over a period of many years.
The establishment of various committees to attend to the many needs of the Village was brought about at an early stage. The Executive and Finance / Management Committees are charged with the careful supervision and control of investment of funds, income and expenditure accounts.
The Foundation has and is most fortunate in having the voluntary services of knowledgeable businessmen who give of their time and expertise so willingly. We are indebted to all those who have contributed to the welfare of Queenshaven, by performing valuable duties as Committee Members and Block Visitors, by providing a variety of services and amenities. Essential as these voluntary duties are however, there are a large number of individuals and organisations who have in some instances, consistently, over many years, given Queenshaven extremely valuable support in various other directions such as organisations and outings and by contributing in cash and kind.
The House and Grounds Sub Committee appointed to attend to the day to day needs of the Villagers, are in constant touch with them and their dedication has resulted in alleviating problems and difficulties which arise from time to time.
The ladies of the House and Grounds Committee sort out donated clothing and sell these at a nominal fee to the Residents. Accumulated funds from the sale of jumble is utilised to purchase various items such as underwear, cardigans, etc. which is also distributed to Villagers.
The activities of the Residents under the control of the House and Grounds Committee had contributed tremendously by establishing a Sale of Work Party, whose profits were utilised to provide two commemorative doors for the John Page Hall – a truly wonderful gesture. In addition, this sector known as “Leisure Time Activities” has over the years, donated tape players, a video machine, chairs, garden furniture, medical equipment, sewing machine and other items from the proceeds of annual sales. Furthermore, a holiday scheme whereby Residents are afforded a subsidy towards a holiday of their choice was introduced in 1968 – a truly remarkable achievement.
The experience, skill and compassionate interest in humanity is exercised by all concerned in the guidance and control of Queenshaven affairs, which has, and is of the highest order and without which, over the most lavish of financial resources, would not necessarily have ensured success when measured in terms of the welfare of the aged.
It would not be possible to mention all persons, individually, who have served Queenshaven on the various committees and other areas.
The Queenshaven Village is set in restful green grounds splashed with colourful patches from many gardens.
Tree planting ceremonies have provided shade and beauty to the entire complex. The Western District Girl Guides and Brownies planted a number of trees some years ago to commemorate the centenary of Lord Baden Powell’s birth and also by the Florida Girl Guides and Brownies.
During 1962, a borehole, capable of producing a satisfactory supply of water for use in the grounds only, was provided as well as suitable pumping, storage and reticulation equipment. This has been a tremendous saving of water. Diversion of water from the borehole source to the laundry complex had resulted in substantial savings in the use and cost of municipal water and consumption thereof.
An efficient underground water sprinkling system was installed in 1968, which proved to be a most useful and labour saving amenity.
Hot water solar units throughout the Village were installed during 1980 and a reduction in unit consumption averaged 20% per annum. Pathways are repaired and/or replaced periodically.
Security walling enclosing the entire perimeter of Queenshaven was erected during 1962. Imposing wrought iron gates were affixed to the pillars at the main entrance gate.
A bus shelter was provided by Mrs Vi Wolton Gray for the comfort of the residents. She had contributed in cash, kind and solid hard work over a period of years. A 25 seater Mercedes Benz bus was procured in 1989 providing transport for Residents to and from local shopping centres. A tremendous important amenity to the old folk.
Inspections regarding fire emergency equipment and safety precautions are carried out regularly.
As aforementioned, the first section of the Village to house 100 persons was completed in 1955. The second phase also to accommodate 100 persons and a Superintendent’s cottage was completed in 1957.
During 1986, modifications / extensions were brought to fruition in all Village rooms, which programme included carpeting, curtaining, heaters and new stoves.
During 1993, accommodation to house an additional 12 married couples was provided in the Village section. This project partially helped to reduce the long waiting list for double accommodation.
Most of the furniture for individual rooms and lounges was donated by John Orrs, Rotary clubs and Rotary Anns. The Round Table provided equipment for the Village Rest House (Sick Bay). Each Resident’s room was fitted with a small kitchen unit and stove, built-in cupboards and furniture which provided the maximum utility and comfort at a minimum expenditure of space and a small refrigeration cubicle came later in 1958. An additional 11 roomed block was built in 1971 and simultaneously a garage, office and gardening store was provided for the Superintendent. Certain modification to the Rest House, extensions to the existing staff accommodation and compounds were carried out during 1974. Further improvements and modifications in the complex were undertaken over a period of years, all of which were carried out in order to enhance the quality of life and amenities, of all Residents.
The hall, administration offices and kitchen were constructed in 1958. At the opening ceremony, the two foundation stones were laid, one by the Honorary President, His Worship the Mayor of Johannesburg and the other by the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Foundation. Copies of local papers of the date of Her Majesty’s Coronation recording that historical event, were buried under the stone. A Voortrekker medal and a coronation medal were also placed there for posterity. The hall was named the John Page Memorial Hall in memory of the late Mr John Page, a past Vice President and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Foundation.
A tower clock and hall clock were installed during 1973 in grateful memory of an old friend and colleague, Miem Lategan, who helped us so energetically for many years.
A munificent donation raised by the Mayoress of the Bedfordview Village Council for the purpose of initiating a building fund for the erection of a Chapel in the grounds of Queenshaven, was received and the project then formulated. The Chapel was put into full use during 1966 and services by the various religious denominations are an important and regular feature, well attended by the Residents. Stained glass windows for the Chapel have been donated by the late Mrs Daphne Bennett, the family of the late Mrs Vi Wolton Gray and by a Resident, Mrs Helen Ehrich of the Village, who designed and constructed a window.
Another generous bequest was made during 1970 from the estate of the late Mrs Norton, which provided the Hobbies Hall in 1974 in memory of the late John and Margaret Winning, parents of Mrs Norton.
The redesigned, enlarged and equipped kitchen was completed during 1988 and catering facilities improved considerably. The dining room facilities extended to the provision of a midday meal to Villagers who required this assistance.
A lonely pioneer, Walter Joseph Richard North, bequeathed an amount of R166 000, one of the biggest gifts to a charity ever made in the Republic of South Africa. This bequest constituted mining and industrial stocks and shares.
It was decided by the Executive / Management Committee of the Foundation to provide accommodation for the enfeebled aged, an amenity which was considered essential for the care of the indigent aged. Nothing was more distressing than the plight of those who are not only aged and indigent, but physically helpless as well. An important milestone in the history of Queenshaven was reached during 1962. The building and equipping of an Infirmary, to house the feeble and frail was made possible by the generous bequest from the late Mr W J R North, who was obviously inspired by his deep compassion for the plight of the aged. The “W J R North Memorial House” provides full care, including medical and nursing services to some 88 Residents.
A well-equipped laundry was constructed in 1962, which provided adequate services for the Infirm Section. A new facility provided to the Residents of the Village, was the issue of bed linen and bath towels, which is changed and laundered on a weekly basis.
Full medical care is available and a part-time private doctor is on call at all times. A Matron and qualified staff perform excellent duties and are always available in emergencies.
One of the many facilities and essential services available to the Residents, is physiotherapy, which section is controlled by qualified therapists on a daily basis.
Podiatry is also available to all Village and North House Residents.
One of the criticisms often levelled at homes for the aged, especially in homes for the frail aged, is the lack of interests and activities. In this regard, Queenshaven have the services of qualified personnel in order to improve the quality of life and mental stimulation of the Residents.
In 1986, the existing Occupational Therapy Centre was extended to provide improved facilities, which project was partly funded form a bequest received from a Mrs M Kotsakis.
A swimming pool was constructed close to the North House for use by Residents and staff, the cost of which was borne by Mrs Daphne (Edmunds) Bennett.
The care of certain Residents who are not frail enough to warrant full care admission, but who are not completely able to fend for themselves, was cause of concern to nursing staff. It was therefore decided to use some of the blocks adjacent to the nursing section as Annexes for these cases, where they are cared for until they require full nursing care and other facilities. These Annexe facilities embrace qualified nursing staff, physiotherapy, podiatry and daily clinic facilities.
The services of a Social Worker were procured in 1988 and assistance in this respect has proved invaluable, particularly in the screening of new applicants and in dealing with the day to day problems of the Residents.
Hairdressing facilities are available and the Edwin Orr Salon continues to function well under the management of capable hairdressing staff.
A micro sound system is provided, linking all sections of the complex, which communication is considered necessary and justified. The operations of security guards in the Village is periodically examined and every endeavour is made to control all aspects of security in the entire Queenshaven complex.
The Queenshaven Day Centre for senior citizens was opened in January 1992. This Centre has a lot to offer including the opportunity to meet new friends and fulfilment. Activities include games, day trips, physiotherapy and various forms of occupational therapy. Also available, are the services of a clinic sister, transport to hospitals if required, a hairdresser and library facilities. Tea is served daily and a midday three course meal is served at a nominal cost to members.
The Day Centre also serves as a resource to restore identity and a sense of usefulness to rejected and problem ridden elderly persons. Individual talents and skills could also find expression in the various roles. Every endeavour is being made to attract senior citizens, who are in need, to the Centre at Queenshaven.
We are living in an age when the concept of caring and providing for the aged has undergone great change and although there were those at the beginning of Queenshaven who thought that many of our plans, then outlined, were merely rosy dreams, it can only be of the greatest satisfaction to us all that, with the completion of the Infirm Section, every one of those original plans which was placed before the public, has been brought to completion, a happy picture. What was envisaged at the inauguration of Queenshaven, has certainly been accomplished.
The important part of Queenshaven is not our buildings or our grounds, but the welfare and happiness of the large group of elderly people for whom we care. As the years draw on, the world becomes more and more circumscribed for an old person. At 21, the whole world belongs to each individual, but at 81, all that is left is that which is within easy reach of tired old bones and weary minds. Only experience can show whether or not in the long run, we achieve this greatest of our aims, by making lives happier than they were before they came to us. So far, the signs are positive.
As one would expect with a large group and all types of individual idiosyncrasies and mental outlook, there can be nothing uniform in our result. It has always been our objective to provide peace and happiness and on the whole, we have achieved this in no small measure. It is inevitable that many aged folk will spend many months of their possibly short remaining lives in a state of insecurity and anxiety. Because in each and every old age home, catering for the elderly in the sub economic group, there are always lengthy waiting lists.
In view of the present economic situation, Queenshaven has endeavoured to cut back on unnecessary expenditure, but, considered it important to maintain the high standards set by the Foundation.
We are deeply indebted to the Department of Health Services and Welfare for their continued financial assistance in the form of subsidisation for infirm Residents, despite a drastically reduced subsidy introduced during 1989, which necessitated an amendment to forecast budget estimates. (In 2010, the Department withdrew their financial assistance to Queenshaven).
A full scale fete is planned for 1994 to be held in the Queenshaven grounds and patrons and visitors are invited to participate in this fund raising effort in the continued interests of those concerned. This event continues and the residents benefit from monies raised.
A regular maintenance programme is inevitable in a community village such as Queenshaven and one major undertaking was the replacement of the roofs in the entire complex, which involved gross expenditure, but satisfaction on completion of this necessary renovation.
During 1966, catering, garden and cleaning staff were made redundant, hence our appointment of qualified contract services in these departments.
Building additions in 1993 included the construction of 12 units for married couples, known as the “C Cottages”, built adjacent to the Village Chapel. Also, accommodation was provided in 1998, consisting of 3 two bedroom and 5 one bedroom cottages. These are known as the “Jolly Cottages”. Funds for this project were made possible by a generous bequest from Mr & Mrs Reginald Jolly.
During 1999, the Hillcrest Geriatric Centre closed their doors and as a result of financial commitment to Queenshaven, we acquired 18 one bedroom cottages which are rented on a lease agreement. In the same year, the Methodist Church built a block of 12 units arising from a legacy from the late Edgar Price. These are erected on the South West Corner of the Village and consist of 8 single and 4 double units.
As was originally envisaged in 2000, Queenshaven found it possible to provide an additional frail care wing which provides 4 wards with 10 beds in each ward. This has proved to be a much needed facility and is named “Lalapanzi”.
The entire security system was removed in 2000 and a new guard house and top security system put in place, including electronic gates and 24 hour guard patrols. A few years later, cameras were installed in each Frail Care unit as well as in the passages of North House and are monitored in the Communications Centre in the North House. Recently, high tech security cameras were installed around the Village and perimeter wall. These cameras are also monitored in the Communication Centre located in the North House and off site in Meyersdal. Armed response is located five minutes away from Queenshaven.
Events are held throughout the year – Big Walk, Garden Competition, Sale of work, Residents’ Christmas Party and monthly socials to name but a few.
Queenshaven is also involved in a community outreach programme in Moffatview, a sub-economic neighbourhood in the area. We run a food provision scheme and the elderly and children are served meals three times a week. We also perform home based care and transport folk from this village to hospital when needed, free of charge.
Toward the end of 2011 we embarked upon a two year Nursing and Care revitalization programme promoting active aging. It aims to enhance the dignity of our residents and counteract boredom, loneliness and helplessness which research has shown to be the biggest challenge faced by older persons.