Fund-raiser for care home

Residents of the Open Circle, a home for adults with an intellectual disability.

A group of local women is holding a lunch to raise funds and awareness for a home for intellectually challenged adults.

Janice Behr, of Tokai, is the mother of Aidan, 40, who was born with Down syndrome. He is one of the residents at Open Circle, and, according to Ms Behr, he is very happy at the group home.

Ms Behr is a retired paediatric physiotherapist who specialised in children with multiple disabilities.

Open Circle was established four years ago as a residential home on the grounds of Alexandra Hospital in Maitland. It is a private/state project in partnership with the provincial departments of Health, Social Development and Public Works.

The home caters for 30 adults with intellectual disability and those with challenging behaviour.

“Many have been excluded or expelled from existing facilities for people with intellectual disability,” said Ms Behr.

Many residents were previously “revolving door” hospital patients, frequently admitted to acute wards in psychiatric hospitals, she said.

Revolving door syndrome refers to the tendency of clients to get better for a while and then end up relapsing. It most often applies to those with serious disorders, such as schizophrenia, but anyone with a mental health condition could potentially be at risk.

Ms Behr will be assisted in the preparation and planning of the lunch by her friends Anna Dewhurst, of Diep River;
Cornelia Newton, of Kenilworth; Barbara Scott, of Tokai and Esme Goldblatt, of
Marina da Gama.

Helita Mankahla, manager of the Open Circle, said specialised individual occupational programmes had helped to create a safe, nurturing and therapeutic environment for the residents.

She said there was a growing waiting list and she hoped the pilot model would be replicated elsewhere.

The home’s credo is that no one meeting Open Circle’s admission criteria should be turned away if families can’t afford the monthly fees, so fund-raising is essential to maintain the level of care.

The lunch will be held in the Tokai Methodist church hall on Saturday August 11, at 12.30pm. Entry is R250 and meatless meals will be available. Book with Janice Behr at 073 9455 134, or email