03.01.03. Public long-term care system | South Africa

03.01.03. Public long-term care system | South Africa

13 Aug 2022

There are an estimated 1150 residential care homes for older persons in South Africa, of which 415 are officially registered with the Department of Social Development (as mandated by the Older Person’s Act) (Mahomedy, 2017). Residential care is largely run by Non-profit organisations (NGOs) and Faith-based organisations (FBOs), and only 8 of these registered facilities are managed directly and fully subsidised by the State (Lloyd-Sherlock, 2019a; Mahomedy, 2017). All registered facilities can apply for subsidies for individual residents, and will only qualify for this financial support if the older person is frail and destitute, in need of full-time care, 60 years and older, and is a South African resident (South African Government, 2019). If the resident dies or leaves, that subsidy is lost. Reductions in the subsidy received from the Department of Social Development have led to facilities failing to provide services to poor, frail persons (who are eligible), while admitting more wealthier persons (who pay themselves) (Lloyd-Sherlock, 2019a).

There are about 4.6 million persons aged 60 years and older in South Africa. However, no data were found on the proportion of this population that is taken care of within the public long-term care system.


Lloyd-Sherlock, P. (2019a). Long-term Care for Older People in South Africa: The Enduring Legacies of Apartheid and HIV/AIDS. Journal of Social Policy, 48(1), 147–167. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047279418000326

Mahomedy, Y. (2017). Residential Facilities for Older Persons. Who Owns Whom: African Business Information.

South African Government. (2019). Old age pension. 1–7. Available from: https://www.gov.za/services/social-benefits-retirement-and-old-age/old-age-pension