Tag Archives: Brenthurst


 The Brenthurst Residence “MISSION STATEMENT” clearly conveys that we understand and value that the community at large puts a premium on a professionally run home which includes both Registered Nurses and our specially trained staff to meet the various needs of their loved ones.

Early on, we realized that we needed to avoid outsourcing staff so that we could focus on the staff we had chosen, to invest our time, values, our specific policies and procedures, attitudinal approach with specific training to uplift, inform and place value on each person to be able to motivate our team towards service excellence.

We started this process by hiring a professional to do a very enlightening SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) Analysis particularly as related to our Human Resources Department and general practices in the home.  Much good came of this and programs such as Safety, Job induction Training and ongoing Peer Evaluations, HR counselling processes and referrals, Monthly Kudos, floating trophies in the various departments and Annual Trophies and Prize-giving’s. We also provide medical attention and 1st Aid on and off location, cash and door prizes for attending seminars, and ongoing practical testing along with annual written exams which create a bit of healthy competition amongst the staff.

Most enjoyed are the Life-Skill training sessions, which always include a spiritual component and something practical such as “How to bake a cake in a beer-box” during our May session – this was then presented to the staff to enjoy in celebration of our facility’s 20th Birthday! 

A 20-year service Trophy was presented by Matron Nunes to Charlene Prins for her Service. 

This month we taught staff how to propagate tomato seedlings in a pot from slices of tomato along with a demonstration on how to grow your own veggie garden from the little seed-boxes Checkers gives away – we already have some keen gardeners in the home, working with Imaan, our Occupational Therapist.  Some “Lucky-Draw” winners received a bag full of the little garden boxes along with an umbrella for coming early to class.

Housekeeping and Carer staff each have their own roles to play in our Disaster/Fire Drills which are done twice a year.  This year, we had all our housekeeping staff, acting as “potential patients”, make it out to the Assembly Point in between 6 to 11 minutes (depending on the number of folk who had to be evacuated).  This was well within the 15-minute arrival time of external Emergency Teams.  The Housekeeping Team cares for all the clients who have been triaged and cleared for “granny/grandpa-sitting”.  However, they also felt they should learn about 1st Aid at the Assembly Point and made suggestions via our suggestion box, the peer review system and at the monthly department representatives meetings we have in place.  Here are some wonderful photos of the workshops held last week…….

People being people, raises the understanding that not everyone is able to work *to time, *to standard, *without wastage or *with joy.  This has resulted that we induce our staff into our style of management and upskilling over a 3-month initial period via mentoring and evaluation.  This costs EFFORT and MONEY!  Sometimes we see great potential and sometimes those bright personalities find it hard to fit into a specific role.  This is when we have to evaluate HOW MUCH COST WE HAVE ALREADY SUNK INTO THIS PERSON, regardless of their personal tragedies, struggles or actual potential.  We have to consider their “fit” into the various teams (often swopping work stations to give them another opportunity to shine) and to give them time to buy into our values, preferred attitude, standards and value system.  And, even though we are a Christian-run organization, we still have a mandate to grace-filled-provision of an exclusive, “Home-away-from-Home” care for discerning Elderly.

  This requires Etiquette and a drive to learn, no matter what it takes.  GOOD, WELL DEVELOPED STAFF ARE AN ASSET WHERE THERE IS NO ROOM FOR “SUNK-COST-FALLACY THINKING”. (SEE Tammy Lenski’s very enlightening article on Sunk-Cost-Fallacy which I hope you will enjoy)!  Sadly, people do come and go, but upliftment is our aim in the process of providing excellent care.


To date we have a Housekeeping Manager who started at a kitchen sink 16 years ago, a new PA to the Services Manager who started as a cleaner, two wonderful Housekeeping Supervisors who were also cleaners, and a myriad of Housekeepers and trainees who have completed a 3-year housekeeping course designed by their Manager.  In the Nursing Department, we have a Staff Nurse, who became a Nursing Manager and is now our esteemed HR Manager; 4 Senior Charge Nurses and their 2 relievers assist the Sisters; Carer Team Leaders rise up to their roles with a second-in-command and their team of 1 to 3 junior Carers who are specifically trained by Sr. Howes.  Thus far we have had one Carer who became an RN and then moved on to become a Facility Manager; 2 others trained to become RN’s, 5 became ENA’s and 1 trained to become a Staff Nurse (EN).  We also take in nursing students from SEESA and other training facilities to ground them in excellence of care as our specific Community Service Project.  Most wonderful of all is that we currently have two of our young Carers registered in College to become Registered Nurses and are shining because of the training they have received here. 

It has long been my dream over the last 16 years to run a licensed training school and this may yet come about once the Dept. of Social Development settles on a standardized Curriculum for Carers to be registered. Thus, imagine my joy when I was recently a patient at Kingsbury hospital, being lovingly greeted by one of my students, now an RN, running her own floor!

Our beautiful staff makes my heart sing for joy and my life so blessed by their willingness to learn and so wholeheartedly serve our residents!  I am proud of you all, past and present!

Love, Matron P

Life at brenthurst

Back to the Hawaiian theme of last time – drums beating and Hula girls swaying……..What is it about a beat and body-moving-music that gets one going?  The steady beat thrumming with our hearts anmusic stirring the senses in response?

So it is even with the elderly, at 9.am today in the frail Care – Unit, barely awake after a comfort –food brekkie, the music on and Carers and Residents armed with tambourines / shakers / tapping sticks & clapping.  The sparkof rhythms soon light up tired eyes & feet start tapping.


Then the singing starts and music therapy is in full swing as clapping starts to drown out the music. Who cares if it is in tune?  The blood is now pumping, eyes bright and cheeks flushed in “the history of now” joins in yesteryear when they were a whirl on the dance floor, memories in the making then and now being re-awakened.




The smiles are worth it all and for a while life on the Frail Care unit, known as “Brenton Lodge,” is alive with joy and new delights, where the music of the heart never fades





Matron Lizann Painter

Good morning All,

This morning I had the pleasure of reading an article by: Tammy Lenski on the art of Mediation.

She explained how easily communication can go wrong by having one of the students in her class, tap out their favorite song on a drum.  She asked the rest of the class if they could recognize the song from the drumming. Fifty percent of the students put their hands up, but not one of them guessed the song correctly.

The article ended with a youtube clip of Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole playing, “Somewhere over the rainbow”  on a beach in Hawaii.

The beautiful, lilting music, immediately transported me to my two holidays in Hawaii, smells of lush, damp, undergrowth, and coconut milk filled my nostrils.

A luau with beautiful swayed hula dancers moving to the music.  Rich sunsets on volcanic, black beaches and swimming with iridescent tropical fish in crystal clear waters came to mind.

So imagine my delight when I heard and saw the lovely circle of elderly folk here at Brenthurst Residence singing and clapping to equally evocative music, as they sat in their chairs between the leaves drifting down in our Autumnal garden.

Strains of “This is my story, this is my song, praising my Saviour all the day long” drifted in the air.

I could only wonder, where, being able to sing “It is well with my soul”, transported them to. Smiles, eyes shining with tears brimming, had me saying thank you to being able to facilitate giving them such a wonderful Occupational Therapist in Imaan Abdurahman who so skillfully reached their hearts and memories with her beautiful song choices and melodies to the extent that as the staff were later walking in the garden with residents on their arms, they too were singing the songs as they walked

What a privilege it is for me to be Matron of Brenthurst Residence Nursing Home as “Mother” to these dear folks.

I look forward to writing more info as to the daily living here in the next few blogs.

Please feel free to comment, encourage us, make suggestions and come visit.


Matron Lizann Painter

Alzheimer’s Support Group



September was World Alzheimer’s month. It was a time to educate and raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and how it affects not only those diagnosed, but also those who have to care for their afflicted family member.

At Brenthurst Residence we believe that, while we care for the elderly and those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other Dementia spectrum diseases, for those in our immediate care to have the best opportunity at an enhanced and simulated life, family plays a significant role. However witnessing your family member slowly loose more and more of who they are is difficult and often traumatizing. We have found that support groups are a fantastic space for family members to come to terms with an often devastating diagnosis, and find new ways to care for their impaired family member.2015-07-29-14-20-49

We have partnered with Alzheimer’s South Africa to run a support group on the first Wednesday of every month at Brenthurst Residence at 15h00. We believe in fostering a healthy community and therefore our support group is open to anyone affected by a family member’s Dementia. Our current group consists of many family members who are caring for their relatives at home. The group creates a space for questions which are expertly answered by Matron Lizann Painter and our in house occupational therapist Imaan Abdurhaman. Both Matron Painter and Imaan are passionate about Elder care and safety.


If you are affected by Alzheimer’s or Dementia please join our next support group on 2 November 2016 at 15h00 at 9 Brent Road Plumstead Cape Town. For more information feel free to phone us on 021 762 3935 or Matron Painter directly on 076 130 0558.pexels-photo

If you are interested in learning more about Dementia or Alzheimer’s in particular you can visit the Alzheimer’s South Africa website on www.alzheimers.org.za or their helpline 086 010 2681, Tel: 021 979 2724

The following article is an excerpt from the Alzheimer’s South Africa October newsletter and is used with their permission.


A person with Alzheimer’s or other dementia doesn’t have to give up the activities that he or she loves. Many activities can be modified to the person’s ability. In addition to enhancing quality of life, activities can reduce behaviours like wandering or agitation. In the early stages of dementia, the person may withdraw from activities he or she previously enjoyed. It is important to help the person remain engaged. Having an open discussion around any concerns and making slight adjustments can make a difference. For example, a large social gathering may be overwhelming, but the person may be able to interact more successfully in smaller groups. As Alzheimer’s progresses, you may need to make other adjustments to the activity. Use the following tips:

  • Keep the person’s skills and abilities in mind. A person with dementia may be able to play simple songs learned on the piano years ago. Bring these types of skills into daily activities.
  • Pay special attention to what the person enjoys. Take note when the person seems happy, anxious, distracted or irritable. Some people enjoy watching sports, while others may be frightened by the pace or noise.
  • Consider if the person begins activities without direction. Does he or she set the table before dinner or sweep the kitchen floor mid-morning? If so, you may wish to plan these activities as part of the daily routine.
  • Be aware of physical problems. Does he or she get tired quickly or have difficulty seeing, hearing or performing simple movements?
  • Focus on enjoyment, not achievement. Find activities that build on remaining skills and talents. A professional artist might become frustrated over the declining quality of work, but an amateur might enjoy a new opportunity for self-expression.
  • Encourage involvement in daily life. Activities that help the individual feel like a valued part of the household — like setting the table — can provide a sense of success and accomplishment.
  • Relate to past work life. A former office worker might enjoy activities that involve organising, like putting coins in a holder or making a to-do list. A farmer or gardener may take pleasure in working in the yard.
  • Look for favourites. The person who always enjoyed drinking coffee and reading the newspaper may still find these activities enjoyable, even if he or she is not able to completely understand what the newspaper says.
  • Consider time of day. Caregivers may find they have more success with certain activities at specific times of day, such as bathing and dressing in the morning.
  • Adjust activities to disease stages. As the disease progresses, you may want to introduce more repetitive tasks. Be prepared for the person to eventually take a less active role in activities.

If you notice a person’s attention span waning or frustration level increasing, it’s likely time to end or modify the activity.

  • Help get the activity started. Most people with dementia still have the energy and desire to do things but may lack the ability to organise, plan, initiate and successfully complete the task.
  • Offer support and supervision. You may need to show the person how to perform the activity and provide simple, easy-to-follow steps.
  • Concentrate on the process, not the result. Does it matter if the towels are folded properly? Not really. What matters is that you were able to spend time together, and that the person feels as if he or she has done something useful.
  • Be flexible. When the person insists that he or she doesn’t want to do something, it may be because he or she can’t do it or fears doing it. Don’t force it. If the person insists on doing it a different way, let it happen, and change it later if necessary.
  • Assist with difficult parts of the task. If you’re cooking, and the person can’t measure the ingredients, finish the measuring and say, “Would you please stir this for me?”
  • Let the individual know he or she is needed. Ask, “Could you please help me?” Be careful, however, not to place too many demands upon the person.
  • Stress a sense of purpose.
  • If you ask the person to make a card, he or she may not respond. But, if you say that you’re sending a special get-well card to a friend and invite him or her to join you, the person may enjoy working on this task with you.
  • Don’t criticise or correct the person. If the person enjoys a harmless activity, even if it seems insignificant or meaningless to you, encourage the person to continue.
  • Encourage self-expression. Include activities that allow the person a chance for expression. These types of activities could include painting, drawing, music or conversation.
  • Involve the person through conversation. While you’re polishing shoes, washing the car or cooking dinner, talk to the person about what you’re doing. Even if the person cannot respond, he or she is likely to benefit from your communication.
  • Substitute an activity for a behaviour. If a person with dementia rubs his or her hand on a table, provide a cloth and encourage the person to wipe the table. Or, if the person is moving his or her feet on the floor, play some music so the person can tap to the beat.
  • Try again later. If something isn’t working, it may just be the wrong time of day or the activity may be too complicated. Try again later, or adapt the activity.

In the Beginning….

Martha Nunes

Brenthurst Residence was founded in 1998 by CEO, Maxie Nunes. As an accomplished businesswoman with a flair for decorating and building, Matron Nunes brings more than 50 years’ experience in elder care and nursing home ownership to the management and care teams she mentors. We asked her some questions to discover more about her, her values and the origin of the company.

Q: Mrs Nunes I hear that you turned 80 this year and you are still keenly involved in the running of Brenthurst Residence as the CEO. What is your secret?

A: Tenacity makes me get up every morning to do forward planning, and trusting God for my every need. I work on having a positive attitude, on seeking to understand the other person’s point of view and giving encouragement and counsel where necessary.

Q: With all this passion for business and care of people how did you get started? And how did you develop your business?

A: Before I started my training at Groote Schuur Hospital, I spent a year in Conradie Hospital where I developed love for Geriatric Nursing. Pneumonia and T.B. was an enormous problem in my youth where the family had to struggle to take care of their loved one. I saw the helplessness in the community and noticed the deficit there was in managing care. There were also no district nurses to guide people in those days.

Q: How did you get involved with building and interior decorating?

A: I once sold my home and used the proceeds to buy a much larger house and developed the property to accommodate my family and residents, learning from my handyman as we added a room here and there. I am a fast learner and keen planner. I had a hobby in my youth of collecting pictures of interior designs, which I kept in a file. I later realized that I had a flair for it. I educated myself by visiting tiling stores and building suppliers and in the process learnt about modern trends. My advice – Do your homework!

Q: What has been key to running so many successful businesses over the years?

A: Once you have developed your strategy for how you want to structure your business, you go where your gifting guides you. Mine was teaching and educating people. I wholeheartedly believe that education, strong morals and healthy boundaries is the foundation that needs to be set. Trusting God is always the recipe for success.

Q: Why have you stuck with Aged Care, particularly care for Dementia Clients?

A: I went to work in an operating theater and although I enjoyed the structure of it, I missed the connection with people who needed their care needs taken seriously. When my mother took ill I struggled to find a suitable nursing home. I will never forget when she contracted scabies and I had to treat her at home and wash her vast wardrobe. This has caused me to set a very high standard of cleanliness, as well as using my love for teaching by starting a staff training program which includes a specialized skill-set to facilitate the efficient handling of all aging issues.

Q: I also hear that you have a passion for mentoring your staff. What motivates this and how do you go about your mentoring process?

A: Previously I had a large nursing home where we trained carers to become E.N.A’s (Enrolled Nursing Assistants). My Staff were so wonderful and grateful to learn that even today when I connect with one of them it encourages me to push forward with the current 3 year basic program that we teach to our carers and cleaners. They write exams and become so proud of their achievements that they develop a strong commitment to being excellent. I follow the same principals as when I was a student nurse – the older staff train the newer staff. Our monthly training, Service Excellence Program, trophies, awards and acknowledgements encourages their desire to learn more. My daughter, Matron Lizann Painter, who handles the training program and keeps the vision alive.

Q: Your staff seem to be a high priority for you. Tell me about this.

A: I consider my staff to be an asset. I make sure that they are not overburdened in their workloads because safety is a priority and having a sufficient ratio of well- trained staff on duty, who are alert and proactive keeps, our standard high. Having clear HR standards and swift corrective action creates helpful boundaries and happy a staff who feel safe to come for help, direction and support.

Q: If you were advising a young entrepreneur about starting a nursing home business what would you recommend?

A:~Choose yourself a personable bank manager, an accessible accountant and a knowledgeable gardener with good planting skills.

~Find a property that is close to public transport either a main road or a bus or train station.

~Research your competition in the area you want to operate.

~Get a copy of the Standards and Norms from the Department of Social Development and start your application once you have the groundwork in place

~Take time with staff interviews to get an informed picture of the prospective staff member, and follow up on their references. Choose team players who are teachable and avoid hiring people with big personalities.

~Get to know the Labour laws, engage a good labour consultant who can put your operating standards on paper. Set your standards and stick to them. Educate, educate educate!

~Develop your documentation, particularly a clear contract and price list.

~Budget: don’t skimp on food, cleaning products, skilled managers, beautiful curtains and bedding.

~Insurance: be aware of Occupational Health and Safety laws

~Good values in a business starts at the top. Work ethic and moral values will filter through to the rest of the business.

~Compartmentalize your business. Be happy and prepared to multitask.