Hope for the elderly as Nakuru Alms house is renovated
For more than 40 years, Nakuru's Alms House, a safe haven for the elderly, was neglected. Most of the buildings were derelict and had almost collapsed.
The home had no perimeter wall and, instead, the bush around it acted as a porous fence and a hiding place for rodents.
There was no gate to Alms House, which was supposed to be a comfort zone for ageing citizens.
Negligence over the years was evident even in washrooms and bathrooms that had broken taps and were in a deplorable state.
But a two-year refurbishment has restored its dignity.
In 2019, former governor Lee Kinyanjui's administration kicked off renovations to create more room for the elderly.
Fast-forward 2022 and the 73-year old facility has undergone refurbishments to the tune of more than Sh15 million, giving hope to the elderly.
Sandwiched between the informal settlement areas of Manyani and Kivumbini, Alms House sits on three acres and has been a rescue centre for neglected and poor elderly residents over the years.
Some of them are brought in from police stations and others are dumped at the entrance by relatives.
But there is more hope now as Governor Susan Kihika’s administration plans to renovate the home further and make it a model abode for the elderly.
Governor Kihika said the county government wants to continue “protecting and giving reasonable care to older persons”.
“Alms House continues to play a significant role in the protection and care-giving for the most vulnerable older persons in the county and we will continue making the home a better place for the elderly,” she added.
"My administration will ensure the home that currently accommodates eight elderly men and women will house 27 people once the newly constructed block with four modern cubicles is commissioned."
Nakuru County aims to expand the home to accommodate more elderly people in need of care.
The spacious and self-contained modern cubicles that have hot showers were built for Sh6 million.
As part of the reforms undertaken at Alms House, the devolved unit has hired a graduate manager and permanent male and female caretakers.
The facility is equipped with a modern kitchen, laundry and a caretaker office that were built for about Sh7 million.
The county government has also appointed a board of directors that will organise its own fundraisings to ensure the home does not depend on the exchequer.
The former municipal council of Nakuru that managed the home allowed land belonging to the home, said to be more than seven acres, to be encroached on under its watch.
Huge chunks were grabbed and the elderly were left with little space to stretch their limbs.
Records available at the Nakuru Lands office indicate that most of the encroachers who erected permanent structures on the grabbed land are former civic leaders and employees of the defunct local authority.
But most of the grabbed land has been recovered.
"The county is determined to secure back the original land for Alms House and ensure there is enough space for the elderly to stretch and enjoy their stay at the facility," Ms Kihika said.
“We have held a series of meetings with the Lands department, who have agreed to help us recover the remaining grabbed land,” she added.
New toilets are elderly-friendly, while sockets and other electrical features in rooms are easily accessible to them, and bathrooms are spacious.
Governor Kihika said the county has a policy for admissions and visitors.
“We want to monitor all visitors to ensure our elderly are safe and comfortable. We will admit only very deserving cases after due verification,” she added.
With planned further refurbishments, the elderly will get a healthier and more comfortable environment, she said.