Casa Caritas celebrates 50 years of providing care for physically and mentally disabled people in October 2023. It’s a milestone that is underpinned by resilience, commitment and an enormous amount of love and compassion.
Established in 1973 by founder and first CEO, Joan Muller, the facility was initially named Kempton Park Home for the Disabled, but later changed its name to Casa Caritas, which means House of Compassion.
When Kempton Park residents identified the need for a facility to provide nurturing care for children with disabilities in the community, Muller convinced the Kempton Park City Council to make a house available for the proposed home.
Located in Maxwell Street, Kempton Park, the house had three bedrooms. As the project gained momentum, a decision was made to split the institution, with one arm catering for higher functioning children and Casa Caritas continuing to take care of severely disabled children.
Muller retained her position as head of Casa Caritas and was instrumental in raising funds to build a home on a large plot of land in Terenure, Kempton Park, which was supplied by the city council. As additional funds became available over the years, new rows of rooms were built to house additional residents and facilities were upgraded to enhance residents’ experiences.
Currently headed up by CEO, Chantell Kriel, the facility accommodates 55 disabled people today, where the majority of the residents are between the ages of 11 and 48.The intake age for enrolment is between the ages of 4 and 14 years. The facility boasts a recreation room, emergency room and controlled outdoor environment that allows residents to move around freely.
Kriel is passionate about Casa Caritas and says she knew she had found her life’s purpose when she started working at the facility. “I am not talented at sports or academics, but I believe I have a great talent to love unconditionally and freely. It is here that I get to express that love.”
Casa Caritas offers 24-hour care to residents, who are either mobile, wheelchair bound or bedridden. Many of them suffer from epilepsy, which is largely controlled via medication, but can nevertheless be triggered at any time, resulting in fits.
Kriel says the fits range from minor to major and require medical attention. “If not caught in time, this may result in hospitalisation. Our facility affords parents peace of mind in knowing that our care workers are always present around their children during the day while they need to work.
“At night our staff conduct hourly rounds to ensure residents remain tucked in. Cameras in each room allow them to observe the monitor between rounds,” she explains.
Daily care at Casa Caritas starts with breakfast, medication, bathing and oral hygiene. Daily therapy and sensory stimulation provide a source of happiness for residents and medication is administered by the registered nurse. The kitchen staff prepare about 200 plates of food daily and an industrial laundry means there is always clean clothing and linen available.
“Our 35 dedicated staff members provide residents with quality of life in a facility that is in tune with their daily pace and does not emulate the rushed way of existence outside the confines of our home. While our team members need to demonstrate leadership, communication, problem-solving and teamwork skills, their greatest skills are compassion, empathy and patience,” says Kriel.
Long-standing employee, Josephine Motsitsi, who has been working at Casa Calitas for 25 years says her greatest joy comes from the Free State. “While I retire at the end of this year, Casa Caritas will always remain in my heart as a home away from home.”
Looking ahead, Kriel’s wish for Casa Caritas is longevity and prosperity. “I hope that we continue to make our founders proud and serve and uphold the dignity and respect that persons with disabilities deserve. My wish – too – is that our organisation continues to fulfil its legacy for many years to come.”
The home’s most pressing needs include financial funding to cover operating costs and groceries. Parents’ fees cover the costs of salaries and the home relies on fundraising initiatives and public donations to cover the rest of its operational costs. Non-perishable items and paint are always on its list of requirements.
Want to help or find out more? Simply pick up the phone, send an email or drop in for a visit. Casa Caritas staff are available 24/7 on 072 107 1989 or via email at email@example.com.