About Us

The Department of Geriatrics was established in 2000 in recognition of the need for undergraduate and postgraduate training in the care of the elderly. It was founded through the generosity of the Aaron Beare Foundation and is one of only 4 such departments/units in the country. 
In keeping with world-wide trends the number of older persons in South Africa is increasing and is projected to reach 6.4 million by 2050. Yet training and research in this area has largely been neglected.

The aims of the department is to provide training for undergraduate and postgraduate medical students and other allied health care workers, provide a centre of excellence for the assessment and management of the older person with multi-system disease, undertake research in the area of ageing and perform an advocacy role for the older person.

Our clinical service is based at King Edward VIII Hospital and consists of inpatient beds for the acute care of the older person with multisystem disease and a weekly outpatient clinic. In addition we plan to develop a specialized rehabilitation unit. A primary goal of the Department is to support and develop district and regional services for the care of the elderly with clear referral pathways between the different levels of the provincial health service, vertically and horizontally. Thus in our outreach programme we have developed a working relationship with the local and provincial Departments of Health and will be organizing a series of training workshops for medical and nursing practitioners and other allied health workers in the field of ageing The department has established the Active Ageing Research Network (AARN) which is a multidisciplinary and inter-sectoral group that will undertake research that is relevant to the ageing population of KwaZulu Natal and South Africa. AARN will also provide a forum for postgraduate training and development and capacity building. 

The department has three consultant posts, two registrars rotating from the general medical pool and a research officer. All service duties (clinics and ward) are currently undertaken at King Edward VIII Hospital. 

Clinical Activities 

The Department serves as a tertiary referral centre for older patients requiring tertiary care in KwaZulu-Natal and this includes an out-patients clinic and in-patients facilities. The department works in close liaison with general medicine and other specialty departments within internal medicine and allied health professionals especially physiotherapists and occupational therapists. The unit runs an out-patient clinic weekly on Thursdays at King Edward VIII Hospital. A “Grand round” is held every Friday morning – and includes medical and nursing staff and physiotherapists where possible. A monthly unit meeting is held with nursing and medical staff.

Head of Department 

Prof Bilkish Cassim: MBCHB, FCP(SA), MD 

Professor Bilkish Cassim

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