As part of their International Mandela Day initiatives, the patient administration team at Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital hosted a birthday party for Suzie Louw, the oldest female patient at the facility, who celebrated her 85th birthday on Thursday July 14.
Martha Wessels, the senior patient administration clerk at the hospital, said Ms Louw has been a psychiatric in-patient for more than 50 years.
Ms Louw was admitted to Valkenberg Hospital in 1965 and was then transferred to Lentegeur Hospital in 1987, where she has been since.
Born on a farm in Oudtshoorn, Ms Louw was found wandering around after her parents had passed away and because she had no siblings or family to take care of her, this led to her long-term admission at a psychiatric hospital.
Ms Wessels said although Ms Louw is intellectually disabled, mute and blind, she enjoys listening to music and socialising with other patients in the ward.
Ms Wessels said they arranged the party because it is a blessing to reach the age of 85 and it should be celebrated.
“We as a department felt that such a milestone birthday should not go unnoticed. In light of this and in the lead-up to International Mandela Day, we decided to host a party for Suzie to celebrate her life.
“Former president Nelson Mandela has always been a champion for the underprivileged and the marginalised.
“Even though times have changed, many individuals who have a mental illness are often discriminated against, marginalised and abandoned by their family members or caregivers because of the stigma surrounding mental conditions.”
Ms Wessels emphasised that this rejection adversely impacts on the person’s self- respect, self-worth and dignity of life.
“This event is but a small token to show that regardless of illness, all individuals deserve to be celebrated and appreciated,” she said.