Retirement is the one thing that happens to everyone. It is good to know when your time to make the move from your career to retirement arrives, that you are legally supported by the Older Persons Act 13 of 2006. But what is the act all about?

In the following article, we take a broad look at what the act covers. La Gratitude is a legally registered organization that operates strictly in accordance with the Older Persons Act. We ensure that the rights of the older person are respected. The various ways we provide accommodation, care services and community support are a clear indication of our compliance with the Older Person Act.

The foundation of the Older Persons Act

The Older Persons Act is a constitutional framework put in place by the Government aimed at the empowerment and protection of older persons. The act provides the guideline for the promotion of older persons’ rights, maintenance of their status, well being, safety, security and all matters related.

The act aims to establish a society based on democratic values, and social justice and seeks to improve the quality of all citizens by ensuring that each person’s inherent dignity is respected.

The sections that make up the act

  • Chapter 1: Object, Implementation, Application and General Principles of the act.
  • Chapter 2: Creating and maintaining a supportive environment for older persons.
  • Chapter 3: Community based care and support services.
  • Chapter 4: Residential Facilities.
  • Chapter 5: Protection of older persons.
  • Chapter 6: General and supplementary provisions.

Definitions declared in the Older Persons Act

The definitions established in the act include the following. Abuse, Care, Caregiver, Community Based Care and Support Services, Frail Older Person, Health Care Provider, Home-based Care, Rehabilitation, Social Worker and more.

Rights of older persons living in residential facilities

The act points out nine (9) key rights of the older person that lives in a residential care facility. You can rest assured knowing that at La Gratitude your rights as stipulated below will be respected at all times.

Here are the rights as stipulated in the Act.

An older person residing in a residential facility has, in addition to the rights he or she has in terms of the Bill of Rights or any other rights he or she may have, the right to-

  • appoint a representative to act on his or her behalf;
  • have reasonable access to assistance and visitation;
  • keep and use personal possessions;
  • have access to basic care;
  • be informed about the financial status of the residential facility and changes in management;
  • participate in social, religious and community activities of his or her choice;
  • Privacy;
  • his or her own physician if he or she can afford it; and
  • be given at least 30 days’ notice of a proposed transfer or discharge.

What the Act stipulates regarding services at residential facilities

The Old Persons Act clearly indicates what services may be provided or be available at retirement communities. The services stated below are a core part of the services we offer at La Gratitude Old Age Home, Cottages and Flats. Learn More about our Accommodation Here.

This is what the Act states regarding services at residential facilities:

The following services may be provided at residential facilities, namely-

  • 24-hour care and support services to frail older persons and older persons who need special attention;
  • care and supervision services to older persons who are suffering from dementia and related diseases;
  • rehabilitation services;
  • public education on issues of ageing, including dementia;
  • counselling services to residents and family members who need these services;
  • implementation and monitoring of outreach programmes;
  • provision of beds for the temporary accommodation of older persons at risk;
  • respite care services;
  • training of volunteer caregivers to deal with frail older persons; and
  • sport and recreational activities.

What does the Act state regarding admission

In order to uphold and protect the right of all citizens in a democratic society, the following regulations are set in motion. These regulations apply to all residential facilities in South Africa. At La Gratitude we are dedicated to upholding and implementing the regulations within our frail care facility and other residential facilities.

The Regulations


No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against an older person applying for admission to a residential facility on one or more grounds referred to in section 9 (3) of the Constitution.


If a person is refused admission to a residential facility, the manager of that residential facility must, on the request of that person, give reasons in writing for such refusal to the person.


An older person may not be admitted to a residential facility without his or her

consent, unless his or her mental condition renders him or her incapable of giving such consent, in which case a person authorised to give such consent in terms of any law or in terms of a court order may give the required consent.

  • In the absence of a person contemplated in-
    • the required consent may be given by the spouse or partner of the older person concerned or, in the absence of such spouse or partner, an adult child or sibling of the older person, in the specific order as listed;
    • Or the required consent may be given by the Minister.
  • The consent contemplated above may only be given after a medical practitioner registered in terms of the Health Professions Act, 1974 (Act 56 of 1974), has certified that any delay in the admission of the older person might result in his or her death or irreversible damage to his or her health.
  • The operator of a residential facility must take all reasonable steps to obtain the older person’s consent.


Notwithstanding subsection (3), an older person who is capable of understanding

must be informed of the intended admission even if his or her mental condition renders him or her incapable of giving the required consent in terms of that subsection.


The operator of a residential facility into which an older person is admitted as a result of consent given in terms of the subsections above must notify the Director-General of the admission within 48 hours after such admission.


On receipt of the notice referred to in the subsections above, the Director-General may constitute such a multidisciplinary team as may be prescribed in order to assess and confirm or reject the admission contemplated in that subsection.


Any person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence.

Monitoring of registered residential facilities

As a retired person that resides at any registered facility, you can have peace of mind as you know that you are covered by the law. The Old Persons Act not only defines the rights of older persons but also provides the means to uphold the application of the act. 

One of these provisions is the monitoring of all registered facilities. Did you know that the State may at any time send a social worker to inspect registered retirement facilities? These inspections conducted by a Social worker include any documentation created or maintained by the residential facility.

What the Act States

Monitoring Visits

A social worker in the employ of the State may at any time, and any social worker or person designated by the Director-General must if requested to do so by the Director-General-

  • visit and monitor a registered residential facility in order to ensure compliance with this Act;
  • interview any older person cared for or accommodated in such residential facility;
  • either with or without the assistance of a health care provider enquire into the well-being of any such older person;
  • direct any person who has in his or her possession or custody any book or document relating to such residential facility, to submit such book or document to him or her for inspection;
  • submit a report to the Director-General on the outcome of the inspection; and
  • provide the operator of the residential facility with a report on the findings of the inspection.


A social worker or designated person exercising any power in terms of the subsection above must, at the request of the manager of the residential facility in question or the person who has control over the place in question, as the case may be, produce a certificate issued by the Director-General stating that he or she is such a social worker or designated person.

Compliance Notice

A social worker or designated person may issue a compliance notice to the operator concerned if a provision of this Act has not been complied with.

Compliance Certificate

A compliance notice remains in force until the relevant provision of this Act has

been complied with and the social worker or designated person has issued a compliance certificate in respect of that notice.


A person is guilty of an offence if that person-

  • obstructs or hinders a social worker or designated person in the performance of his or her functions in terms of subsection (1);
  • refuses to give a social worker or designated person access to an older person cared for or accommodated in a residential facility referred to in the subsection above; or
  • refuses or fails to comply with a direction in terms of the relevant subsections.

Reporting required from residential facilities operators

As a means to implement and maintain the regulations created by the Older Persons Act, operators of registered residential facilities are obligated to submit an annual report to the minister.

The reports submitted include information regarding the facility’s financial status and the standards of service and more.

The act states the following

The Report

The operator of a registered residential facility must within 60 days after the end of the financial year of that residential facility submit to the Minister a report covering that financial year in respect of-

  • compliance with-
    • the prescribed service standards; and
    • the prescribed measures to prevent and combat abuse of older persons; and
    • the provisions of the prescribed service level agreements concluded during that financial year.


If the operator of a registered residential facility fails to submit a report in terms of the subsection above, the Minister may-

  • give notice to that operator that if such report is not submitted within 90 days after the date of that notice, the registration may be withdrawn; and
  • if such a report is not submitted within 90 days after the date of the notice given in terms of the paragraph above, withdraw such registration after giving one month’s notice of the intention to do so.

In Closure

This article covers only some of the points stated in the act, you can download the complete act here. At la Gratitude, we take the informing of our residents seriously and make sure that all residents are always up to date with the regulations. Our friendly team of social workers and medical staff is always up to date with the regulations and gladly assists any residents with related information.

You can make a difference

With your assistance, the volunteers at La Gratitude will be able to take better care of not only the residents at the old age home but also the greater Newcastle community. La Gratitude is constantly involved in outreach projects to help the elderly in need in and around Newcastle.

Your donations will be greatly beneficial in the provision of food and other basic necessities for the less fortunate elderly people that require assistance.

Donating is easy, click here to donate now.