Archive: October 21, 2021

How COVID-19 has brought palliative care into sharp focus

Although great strides have been made in allowing the broader public to get a grasp of what exactly palliative care is, many misconceptions still remain about what palliative care entails and what its purpose is.

Chiefly, many people still equate palliative care with end-of-life care, not taking into account the interdisciplinary approach that is part and parcel of the service provided by organisations like HospiceWits. Although many people who receive palliative care are in the final stages of an incurable illness, many others are not. Additionally, hospice care doesn’t only take the needs of patients into account, but also offers support to their families and loved ones – this often takes a practical approach, teaching loved ones how to take care of the patient but, in addition, also provides counselling and spiritual guidance to both the patient and their family.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of modern healthcare, and it’s fair to assume that the way we approach caring for ill patients will be irrevocably changed by a virus that has now been in our midst for almost three years, with no signs of it subsiding just yet.

One aspect of healthcare that has certainly changed is the way in which palliative care has become intertwined with the way the virus is treated in hospitals. With many patients who contract COVID-19 unfortunately still passing away due to the virus, physicians and nursing staff have had to take a modus operandi that grapples with the challenges posed by the pandemic.

As many patients who have passed away from the virus have been unable to say their final goodbyes to loved ones in person, nursing staff have become the purveyors of palliative care, also using modern technology to allow patients and their families to speak via video call, for example.

Speaking about the renewed interest that COVID-19 has brought to palliative care in the US, Davis Baird, government affairs director for the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, has said that more and more individuals and policymakers are starting to see the needs that palliative care fulfils.

“There is a broad recognition that palliative care as a concept is really good at hitting what many call the triple aim in healthcare: it improves patient and family outcomes, it improves care experience at the point of care, and really critically on the policy side, results in cost savings,” says Baird.

Locally, the Association of Palliative Care Practitioners of South Africa (Palprac) has compiled guidelines for managing adult patients who receive home-based palliative care during the pandemic. As many of the patients that these guidelines are aimed at do not have access to healthcare services and providers, it has proved an invaluable tool to caretakers, whether they are professional palliative care practitioners, or the family of the person who is ill.

Although the circumstances that have led to this renewed interest in and esteem for palliative care are dire, it is heartening that the medical community as well as the general public are realising the importance of holistic healthcare that takes an interdisciplinary approach, which also includes offering support to the family and loved ones of the patient.

If you are in need of palliative care services in Johannesburg and Soweto, please feel free to contact HospiceWits – find out how here.

HospiceWits Tree of Light will again shine virtually in 2021

Over the past few years, HospiceWits’s Tree of Light tree-lighting ceremony at the Johannesburg Zoo has become one of our most cherished annual traditions. Due to the challenges posed by COVID-19, last year’s Tree of Light event took a virtual approach, inviting supporters, donors, and people wanting to honour the memory of a loved one who has passed, or the tireless healthcare workers in our country, to purchase a virtual globe and support this vital fundraising effort.

Of course, the pandemic is, unfortunately, still a factor that needs to be taken into account when organising our fundraising events, and HospiceWits has decided to again appeal to our supporters in the run-up to this year’s second virtual Tree of Light event.

Just as we did in 2020, HospiceWits gives our donors the chance to buy a virtual globe on our online Tree of Light, also offering them the opportunity to dedicate a message to someone who is dear to them. More than 500 virtual globes were sold last year, and HospiceWits hopes to greatly surpass this amount in 2021. All funds raised will be utilised by HospiceWits, as we continue serving our community with fundamental palliative care, mental health support and other crucial services in and around Johannesburg and Soweto.

How does it work?

Donors who would like to support HospiceWits in this important fundraising event are able to purchase a virtual globe directly on the Tree of Light website. When clicking on the “Donate” tab at the top of the screen, you will be redirected to a page where you can specify who you are buying a globe for, choose the colour of the virtual globe, write a message of dedication, and make payment.

We found the dedications that were made last year beautiful and heart wrenching – they truly were and are a heartfelt remembrance of people who clearly made a great impact on others during their lives.

We look forward to again offering this opportunity to our loyal supporters, and having them mark the impression their loved ones have made in a way that is novel and very different from our traditional tree-lighting ceremony, albeit still letting them pay tribute in a way that is meaningful and powerful.

Keep an eye on our social media pages for the latest news about HospiceWits Tree of Light 2021, and to learn more about the work we do.