Archive: February 22, 2021

Homecare sister goes the extra mile to help each patient

Sister Yolanda Tomlinson describes herself as an energiser-bunny caregiver who feels happiest when she sees others feeling comfortable.

Tomlinson works as a homecare sister at Hospice Wits Houghton, serving between 20 and 30 patients and their families in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg at any one time.

“It’s not a job. It is a calling. Palliative care is a very emotional, difficult job with people in the terminal stages of life. My job is to care for both the patient and their family. It requires a lot of patience and good listening skills,” said Tomlinson.

“Patients, most of whom are struggling with cancer, are in a lot of pain and families are often in denial and will not accept the diagnosis. My job is to get everyone on the same page and walk them through the final journey.

“It is so fulfilling to show people that they are not alone and there is someone that they can turn to.”

Tomlinson trained and worked as a nurse early in life and left the profession to pursue a career in the commercial world for a number of years.

“I always saw myself as a caregiver and knew the timing was right to return to nursing. My job requires a wealth of life experience and people skills, which helps me to face everyday challenges.”

She began working for HospiceWits in 2019 and has never looked back.

“The gratitude you get from families is so incredible. To see the stress fall off their faces and allay their fears is very fulfilling.”

Tomlinson describes her car as her office as she drives from patient to patient, picks up medicines and attends to calls.

“It sometimes becomes a juggling act when you have to see up to eight patients a day. I need to hold myself together and always give 100 per cent. The person who sees you at 8am and the person who sees you at 5pm must get the same you.”

With the exhaustion and emotional pressure of the job, Tomlinson said it was very important to look after herself, take time off, go for counselling and ensure that she was healthy, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I must ensure that I don’t have any symptoms of Covid-19 in order to protect my patients.”

HospiceWits CEO Jacqui Kaye described Tomlinson as a sister who provided quality nursing care to each patient.

“Yolanda is passionate about every patient and goes the extra mile to care and offer support.”

Published by the Rosebank Killarney Gazette, you can read the article here.

How to take care of your mental health when you’re in the midst of mourning

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago has brought with it many lessons. The most painful of these has probably been learning to cope with grief. Of course, the families and friends of people who pass away from a terminal illness know this hard process all too well.

How does one cope with the immense impact of grief brought about by the death of a loved one?  During this very difficult and emotional grieving process, how do we take care of our mental wellbeing?

As we navigate the sadness that the impact of the coronavirus brings with it, here are a few tips to make sure you take care of your mental health.

Try to manage anticipatory grief

Grief expert and author David Kessler describes a lot of what we are feeling now as anticipatory grief, which is a common reaction when the future is uncertain. For example, when someone we love is diagnosed with a terminal illness, one of the strong underlying emotions is anxiety, which can greatly hamper a person’s mental wellbeing.

Kessler recommends that people who feel this way should try not to allow their minds to wander to thoughts about the future, but instead to remain in the present. Mindfulness practices such as meditation are very helpful techniques to learn, which will help alleviate symptoms of anticipatory grief, like anxiety.

Self-care is key

While it may be extremely difficult to take care of oneself after experiencing the immense loss of a loved one, self-care is very important,  and even just exercising basic techniques of meditation, relaxation or other means to de-stress oneself can be helpful.

Ensuring that you remain hydrated, eat regular meals, and are getting enough rest will strengthen you through the grieving process by keeping your immunity boosted and strong, which will aid you in fighting off infections. Even spending some time languishing in a bath with aromatherapy oils and bath salts, and practising calming breathing techniques can be relaxing and healing.

Recognise that grief takes time

Going through the steps that traditionally constitute the grieving process is a timeous affair.  According to Dr Kubler Ross, there are traditionally five steps in the process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is also important to acknowledge the sixth step, often unbeknown to us, which is litigation. Someone needs to be blamed for what is happening to us and for the loss that we are experiencing. The financial bills that are piling up from medical treatment, funerals and unplanned expenditures can lead to great social anxieties. Fear of things like losing your house or reliable transport, and depression can all contribute to feelings of isolation and being alone in your grief. No matter the order in which you experience them, the grieving process itself takes time. Acknowledge that life without your loved one will never be the same, but that it will take time to get used to this fact. The reality is that the impact of your loss never really diminishes or disappears completely, but rather that one adjusts life to live around the circle of grief and loss.

Reach out

The pandemic has made it difficult to honour some of the traditions we have embraced when saying goodbye to a loved one, which has made it especially hard to grieve in the ways we are used to. Even so, reaching out to family and friends to share the grief you are feeling can be vital in not letting the isolation that COVID-19 requires get to us.

Discuss your grief with the people you stay with, and get in touch with others via telephone or video call. If feelings of grief are causing you mental distress, do not hesitate to contact a professional counsellor, therapist or psychologist.

Sihlangene is HospiceWits’s specialist psychosocial team, comprising a qualified general practitioner with a postgraduate specialist qualification in palliative medicine, a psychiatric nurse, specialist frontline workers, management, coordinators, and a diverse group of counsellors hailing from various training backgrounds and with varied experience. Sihlangene provides psychosocial care to HospiceWits patients and to their loved ones, as well as to members of our communities.

If you would like to find out more about Sihlangene’s services, please contact our office on 011 483 9100 or send an email to

How you can help HospiceWits in 2021

The pandemic has put increased financial pressure on just about all of us, and this is also the case for NPOs like HospiceWits, who rely heavily on donations from the public in order to conduct our daily business. Taking care of the patients using our services and providing assistance to their families is what fulfils us and gives the team a wonderful sense of purpose and reward.

As the new year kicks off, we ask for your continued assistance to lighten the financial burden we carry. There are a number of ways in which you can contribute to the cost of patient care, as detailed below.


As a non-profit organisation, we do all our own fundraising to cover the costs of patient care in both Johannesburg and Soweto. This is a very important function, and we have diverse fundraising activities that are ongoing throughout the year.

These include our charity shops, where a variety of donated goods are sold. Ongoing appeals are sent to individual donors, corporates, trusts, foundations and other grant-makers. As a public benefit organisation, donors may claim donations as a tax deductions. Donors may also claim BBBEE points against the Socio-Economic Development (SED) element of the BBBEE scorecard, as HospiceWits has 76% black beneficiaries.

By becoming a member of our Club 2000 programme, you could be the lucky winner of a monthly R20 000 cash prize, for a donation as small as R50 per month. We also have regular annual fundraising events for which we are well known, like the HospiceWits Tree of Light and Night With the Stars. Friends and supporters of HospiceWits are also encouraged to donate on their birthday and other special occasions by requesting donations to HospiceWits in lieu of gifts.

To learn more about joining Club 2000, click here.

Donate your unwanted household goods to HospiceWits shops

HospiceWits shops can be found in Parkmore, Orange Grove and Kensington, and we also have a stand at the Rosebank Flea Market. Please make our shops your first stop when shopping for special bargain household and gift items. By donating your pre-loved goods to our shops, you are contributing to one of our most important streams of income. We are happy to receive:

– Pots, pans and kitchen goods
– Crockery, cutlery
– Linen and curtains
– Ladies’, men’s and children’s clothing
– Furniture
– Electrical items in working order
– Ornaments, bric-a-brac, general home goods
– Books, DVDs and CDs
– Toys

– Non-perishable food donations for distribution to our patients

If you have a large quantity of items to donate – we collect!

Please call our depot on 011-728-1052.

Make HospiceWits a beneficiary on your MySchool card

By choosing HospiceWits as a beneficiary on your MySchool card as a part of the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet loyalty programme, you will be ensuring that a percentage of the transaction will be donated to our vital work. Joining the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme and selecting HospiceWits as a beneficiary is very easy to do online.

HospiceWits is grateful beyond words for the continued support of the public, and we convey our heartfelt thanks to the people keeping this ship afloat amidst a storm that is ravaging the entire globe. We wish everyone the very best this year – may compassion reign.