Archive: February 23, 2022

Palliative care patients and enjoyment at the end of life

There is a common misconception that palliative care is for people for whom doctors have no hope – that it is for people who are dying. While palliative care is often provided to patients who are in the final stages of a terminal illness, this is not always the case, as a patient may receive palliative care during any stage of their illness to make them comfortable and improve their quality of life.

What is important to note is that all palliative care patients can benefit from moments of enjoyment while they are in the midst of receiving care. Even if patients are dying, they are also still living.

In one 2010 study looking at the meaning in the lives of palliative care patients, researchers found that patients at this stage of their lives place a higher value on their partner and friends, leisure, spirituality, well-being, nature and animals, and pleasure than participants from the general population. This was after administering the Schedule for Meaning in Life Evaluation (SMiLE) on 100 patients receiving palliative care, and the same number of healthy participants.

The inclusion of things like leisure and pleasure is significant here, as it shows us that patients who are in the final stages of their lives still have the ability – and the need – to experience things that they enjoy.

This explains why the chief of the palliative care unit at Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital in south-central France decided to start a wine bar for terminal patients at the hospital. Dr Virginie Guastella was moved to do so after a Christmas party at the hospital, when seeing one patient in her care – a 50-year-old man suffering from a neurodegenerative disease that left him unable to chew or swallow – was entirely left out of the festivities. Because he was only able to consume food through a feeding tube, the patient could no longer find pleasure in the food he once enjoyed. Dr Guastella decided to drop some diluted red wine on his tongue – not enough to swallow, but just the right amount to trigger the pleasure sensors in the dying Frenchman’s brain.

In the years that have followed, the hospital has established a wine bar that is stocked by donors from wine farms. Not so much a bar as a cellar, this area of the hospital stores a wide array of wine that is routinely served to patients, should they want some. The hospital has also started incorporating food tastings into their offering, including caviar and French pastries. Dr Guastella believes that wine and good food every now and then helps patients maintain a sense of dignity and normalcy. It is a powerful panacea to the anhedonia (an inability to feel pleasure) that palliative care patients often experience in a sterile hospital environment.

This story tells us a lot about how we can improve the lives of friends or family members who are in palliative care. If you are unsure as to how you can make an ill loved one’s remaining days better, ask them what they’d enjoy doing, and try to reconcile this with what they are able to do. While a terminally ill patient may not be able to go to the beach, they might enjoy looking through old photos of beach holidays, for example.

As is the case with the wine bar, the good effects from sharing a glass of wine with a sick patient is in the sharing – something that can be invaluable to a patient at the end of life.

HospiceWits bids hearty welcome to 2022 Board of Governors

HospiceWits is excited to introduce its Board members, both longer serving and new, to all stakeholders. As Non-Executive Directors, each member offers their time, skills and expertise as a volunteer, guiding the management team and ensuring adherence to corporate governance in all operational aspects of the non-profit organisation. Each of our Board members has extensive experience and accomplishments in their respective fields, which we proudly share with you.  

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The Chairman of the HospiceWits Board, Dr Brad Beira, is an experienced health systems architect with two decades of healthcare experience. He has been in private practice, has worked on hospital/health system efficiency models, has been the risk manager in a specialist orthopaedic hospital, and has designed primary health and medical indemnity products in multiple markets.

Brad has lived and worked in the European Union, the Middle East and South Africa, providing health-based advisory and consulting services in and across Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America since 1997. Brad joined the HospiceWits Board in 2019.

Mr Michael Judin is the Senior Partner of the Johannesburg-based law firm Goldman Judin Inc. He is a legal advisor to and director of the American Chamber of Commerce in South Africa. Michael is also the non-executive director of Lyons Financial Solution Holdings Limited, Privest Group Limited, and Nu-World Holdings Limited, and the Director of several unlisted companies and Trustee of several Trusts. Michael is the longest-serving Board member, as he has been on the HospiceWits Board since 1998. He is extremely passionate about the services that the palliative team provides, and is forever grateful for the care and support provided to his mother in the in-patient unit of HospiceWits.

Dr Tshepo Motsepe is HospiceWits’ Patron. Dr Motsepe is a medical doctor with training in public health. She has worked in both private practice, and in hospitals in South Africa and Zimbabwe. She served on the Gauteng Health Department’s accreditation committee, the Vaal Reefs Disaster Trust and the Kids Haven Foundation, and is a previous member of the National Medical and Dental Association. Dr Motsepe is a Trustee of the ASHA (African Self Help Association) Trust, a Non-Executive Director for the Wits Health Consortium, and a patron of the Students Sponsorship Program. Dr Motsepe’s contributions as an active Board member for HospiceWits have been invaluable, and she continues to advocate for palliation for those diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.

Ms Esme Pudule has been a HospiceWits Board Member since 2018. Esme is self-employed, as well as being a trained palliative care professional nurse, trained COHSASA/HPCA surveyor, and a trained facilitator and assessor. Esme became involved in palliation when she was employed as a homecare RN, and was trained at HospiceWits. Esme has a wealth of knowledge of palliative care, and understands all aspects of the inter-disciplinary team approach to ensuring a patient and their family are cared for holistically. She has been of tremendous assistance in ensuring that HospiceWits achieves full compliance with all the COHSASA standards, and obtains recognition as a 5-star Hospice through HPCA.

Mr Hiten Keshave is a qualified chartered accountant with a Master’s degree in Business Administration. He is a tenacious professional, armed with a broad-based background and skill set in leadership, finance and commercials, making him a perfect fit for dual and cross-functional roles. Hiten specialises in the areas of strategic and commercial finance, sustainable business growth implementations, leadership and people management, and stakeholder development, to name a few. Hiten joined the HospiceWits Board in 2020.

We have had the privilege to welcome four new Board Members in the third quarter of this year.

Mrs Shericha Singh is a qualified chartered accountant, with extensive experience in the financial field. Shericha has been working at Absa Group Limited since 2015 within the finance department. She also has a background in consultation. Shericha specialises in regulatory reporting, financial reporting, auditing and stress testing.

Mr Sanjay Soni is a qualified chartered accountant, business strategist, transformation leader, entrepreneur, and start-up and early stage investor. Sanjay is very entrepreneurial, as he has started many businesses, and has been the CEO of several companies. His mentorship is evident, as he has 25 years in providing bespoke enterprise business solutions to organisations in a multitude of sectors, including financial services, mining, ICT, media, marketing and advertising, telecommunications, travel and tourism, FMCG, transport and logistics, and construction and infrastructure sectors.

Mr Eddie Matikiti has over 10 years’ experience in the information technology, finance, retail, administration and marketing sectors. Eddie works well with people, and enjoys facilitating team building. Eddie runs two businesses simultaneously, highlighting his leadership skills. Eddie also specialises in project management, business consultations, business analysis, and facilitating.

Mr Vinod Kalicharran has 32 years’ experience in the banking sector in credit and risk management, commercial, SMMEs, personal markets, ICT, internal audit, home loans and debt collection. Vinod has been serving on various company committees and boards over the years. He was very involved with the Cancer Association in Lenasia, and has insights into the non-profit environment.

The management and staff of HospiceWits welcome our new members to the HospiceWits Board of Governors, and look forward to a long, mutually beneficial relationship, as we work together with the team to achieve the continued and future sustainability of HospiceWits.