Archive: May 21, 2020

What you should know about care and support that HospiceWits continues to provide during the Covid-19 outbreak

As the guardians of palliative care in South Africa, hospices are faced with a new and rapidly escalating challenge – how best to care for palliative patients during the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the mission of hospices – “to promote quality in life, dignity in death and support in bereavement to all persons living with a life-threatening illness by supporting the patient and their family members” – coupled with the fact that Covid-19 in critical and end-of-life stages is undisputedly a global life-threatening disease, it is incumbent on HospiceWits to support our patients and to provide appropriate and safe care and support to persons living with Covid-19, whilst safeguarding the health of hospice staff.

Palliative care is not only end-of-life care, but is an interdisciplinary team approach that improves the quality of life of patients (adults or children) and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems – physical, psychosocial and spiritual. It begins when illness is diagnosed, and continues regardless of whether or not a person receives treatment directed at the disease.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has had an impact on every part of our lives. HospiceWits continues to provide end-of-life care, albeit with extra precautions to keep our patients, as well as our staff safe. If you or a family member has a life-threatening illness and is in need of hospice care, here is what you should take note of.

• The Intake Department continues to provide telephonic guidance and, where a patient fits the criteria of hospice, registration as a hospice patient.

• The same guidelines surrounding social distancing during the different phases of the national lockdown are applicable to patients receiving palliative care. A hospice patient may be more at risk of contracting Covid-19 due to the conditions they have, therefore an active Patient Care Plan that includes pain management, a symptom and an infection control plan will be put in place.

• The most effective infection control measure is to avoid persons with Covid-19. However, this may not be possible for the HospiceWits team, so every precaution has been put in place to ensure the safety of the interdisciplinary team (the doctor, homecare nurse, social worker and in-patient nursing team).

• It is recommended that if a member of the team is caring for a patient who is known to have Covid-19, then that homecare nurse should provide care to a patient telephonically, referring them through the DOH pathway for treatment.
• Advanced care planning is of particular importance, as strain on the country’s national health service is likely to increase as more coronavirus patients start requiring hospital admittance for the condition.

Rest assured that the HospiceWits staff adheres to all the guidelines set out by government to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Unfortunately, though, under lock down level 4 our charity shops are only permitted to sell winter stock. All fundraising events planned for the foreseeable future have been put on hold or cancelled.

Please consider donating your pre-loved winter goods (collections are permitted) and/or funds, as our work as a registered NPO is extremely dependent on support from the public and corporate spheres.

Here is where you can help.

What is the difference between palliative care and hospice care?

People often regard hospice care and palliative care in the same light, and although these two types of patient care do have a lot in common, it is useful to mention the differences.

The history of palliative care

While the concept of this type of care has a storied history, estimated to date as far back as 1065, when the ill and dying en route to and from the Holy Land were looked after in Malta, the first modern hospices were established by a British registered nurse who dedicated her life to medical social work. Dame Cicely Saunders recognised the need for a patient-centred, holistic approach for patients with terminal conditions, which was rooted in a belief that every human being should live with a “sense of fulfilment and a readiness to let go”.

Saunders’ model took into account all the needs of patients who face the end of their lives and, as such, the palliative care provided at modern hospices focuses on physical distress, as well as emotional and spiritual issues, with maximum comfort for the patient being the ultimate goal.

How palliative care and hospice care are different

Palliative care refers to the management of the symptoms associated with chronic and life threatening illness, while also helping patients and their loved ones deal with the psychological and emotional aspects associated with a serious diagnosis.

Palliative care, according to the World Health Organization’s definition thereof, neither aims to hasten or postpone death, rather focusing on enhancing a patient’s quality of life. Palliative care may be provided early in the course of an illness, and is often given in conjunction with other therapies that focus on prolonging life, like radiation and chemotherapy.

Hospice care incorporates all the principles of palliative care into its practices from diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, but is more specifically focused on patients that have received a prognosis of six months or less to live. While palliative care can be provided at any stage of an illness, hospice care helps patients and their families to manage the end-of-life stage in particular.

How you can help

Since 1979 HospiceWits has taken a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to caring for patients in Johannesburg and Soweto. We believe in preserving the quality of life of our patients for as long as they need it, while also providing support to the loved ones of the patients in our care. Our more than 100 full-time staff includes the interdisciplinary team of nurses, doctors, psychologists, social workers and counsellors.

HospiceWits is a registered NPO, and we are fully reliant on fundraising efforts and donations to keep doing this important work. We invite corporates and individuals to support us by donating here.