HC-One Resident returns home to family in South Africa after 24 yearsWhen colleagues at HC-One’s Brookdale View care home, in Newton Heath, Manchester, heard about one resident’s wish to permanently return home to South Africa to be with his family, they set about to make this happen. After almost four months of incredible perseverance, planning and hope, the plane landed, and the family were reunited earlier this month. 

Mr Mafika Mlangeni arrived in the UK in 1999 and worked as a Nurse within the NHS. Unfortunately, his health deteriorated over recent years and he was diagnosed with Parkinsons, Dysarthria and poor mobility. 

After arriving at Brookdale View care home on 14th July, he expressed his wish to return to South Africa to be with his wife and children he had not seen for 24 years since arriving in the UK, and his grandchildren - some of whom he’d never met, having only being able to keep in touch through phone and video calling. 

After hearing of Mr Mlangeni’s wish, colleagues met at Brookdale View care home as a team to support Mr Mlangeni’s wish to come true. They named this ‘Team Repatriation’, led by Home Manager Tsitsi Shanyurai, which was put into play straight away.

The initial conversation took place on 15th July, where Tsitsi informed the local Discharge to Assess Team and Mr Mlangeni was then allocated Rebecca Irving as his named Social Worker.

It would be a long road ahead to make this happen, so Tsitsi then set out working on a comprehensive medical report for the family, immigration and GP, and writing a letter to Immigration officials in the UK and South Africa with a comprehensive list of Mr Mlangeni’s medical history. 

After much liaising between healthcare professionals, his family and immigration, the hard work paid off! 111 days after the initial conversation, Mr Mlangeni was having a small send off party at Brookdale View care home. 

Tsitsi wore traditional clothes to symbolise Mr Mlangeni’s culture and performed a dance which symbolises accomplishment, victory, success, and break through. The process was not without its challenges and the music and dance was a celebration for all.

Mr Mafika Mlangeni commented:
“Thank you, I am going to Johannesburg, South Africa, to be with my family.”

Irene Greenhalgh, one of Mr Mlangeni’s friends and fellow resident at Brookdale View, said:
“I am so excited for Mafika, finally he gets to be with his family. It must have been so lonely for him here. I cannot imagine not being able to see my family for such a long time.”

Close family friend, Buyelwa Gwele, chaperoned Mafika on the plane, which departed from Heathrow Airport, landing on 7th November at Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Buyelwa commented that the South African immigration authorities were impressed with all of the information supplied, which made it easy to process his arrival.

His wife, Mrs Thandi Mlangeni, Grandson, Omnene Mlangeni and close family friends Phelo, Mandla and Gugu Hlatshwayo were all waiting to greet Mr Mafika at Tambo Airport, and the emotions were high with so much happiness captured in one moment.

Mrs Thandi Mlangeni, wife of Mafika Mlangeni, commented:
“I sincerely want to thank you so much for all you did for my husband. He would not have made it without your helping hands.
To each and every one of you on behalf of the family I thank you, but only God will reward you for your sacrifices and contributions.
He is so happy to be with his grandkids he had never seen. He is enjoying all the love and smiles from them.”

Tsitsi Shanyurai, Care Home Manager at Brookdale View, commented:
“The process was not easy, we met quite a few challenges. Our motto was ‘Never Give Up’.”
“As part of the Kind Care Company, we aspire to meet the needs of our residents and go above and beyond to ensure their aspirations are met.”

Mr Mlangeni is now content and happy to be with his family in South Africa, and everyone deems operation ‘Team Repatriation’ a huge success. 

Thank you to everyone who played their part in ‘Team Repatriation’, including: Rebecca Irving - Social Worker, Buyelwa Gwele - close family friend, John Goodenough and Lisa Pennell - Financial Risk Analysts, Jo Ashcroft - HC-One Area Director, and all colleagues at HC-One’s Brookdale View care home, including Steph Welch, Non Clinical Deputy. With an extra special ‘thank you’ to Tsitsi Shanyurai, Care Home Manager, for managing the whole process and getting Mr Mlageni home to South Africa.